Resource Links Review - The Griffin of Darkwood
Reviewed by: Natalie Colaiacovo
Young, aspiring writer, Will Poppy has always been inspired by his mother, Adrienna. A writer herself, Adrienna has been working diligently to finish her first book. Yet, when she unexpectedly passes away, shortly after completing the book's final chapter, Will chooses to give up on his dream. With little opportunity to grieve, Will is whisked away to live with his grouchy Aunt Mauve who was seemingly compelled to purchase an old castle in the small English-town of Sparrowhawk. When Will arrives, he notices a slightly mystical quality about the castle, the town and its inhabitants - ghosts haunt Sparrowhawk Hall, his favourite literary characters crop up in the town bookstore, and he befriends a boy who can sense the emotions of animals. Having received a mysterious package with a photo, and a scrap of fabric that reads "The Griffin of Darkwood," Will soon becomes embroiled in a decades-long mystery surrounding an ancient curse.
Becky Citra peoples Sparrowhawk with a wide case of colourful characaters, including Will's fast friends, Thom and Emma. At times, however, the book feels crowded with people and plot points that can't all be satisfactorily resolved within the novel's slim 170 pages. The central mystery, however, wraps up neatly, carried by Will, Thom and Emma's easy friendship. Hints at a potential romantic relationship between Will and Emma seem unnecessary. More interesting is the novel's primary message of integreity and the importance of following your passion, a message Will learns as he is forced to pick up his writer's pencil again to save his friends and break the curse at the novel's end. The Griffin of Darkwood's magical trio will no doubt draw comparisons to another literary magical orphan and his two friends - and Citra nods at Harry Potter and other literary inspirations throughout the novel. While The Griffin of Darkwood doesn't quite succeed at the intricate world-building of the Harry novels, it certainly provides a fun and satisfying adventure for readers seeking a hint of magic.
Thematic Links: Empathy; Integrity; Teamwork; Perseverance; Death; Friendship; Love of Reading; Magic; Passion; Writing