Darke is written by Angie Sage. It is the sixth book in the Septimus Heap series. It was published in 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books. Sage’s website can be found here and the Septimus Heap fansite can be found here.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
“In the sixth book of the Magykal series, Alther Mella has been Banished, a Darke Domain engulfs the Castle, and a Darke dragon is on the loose. Septimus Heap must use all of his skills to save the Castle and the Wizard Tower from destruction: He must enter the Darke. But he cannot do this alone. With the help of Jenna, Alther Mella, Marcellus Pye, and Septimus’s estranged brother, Simon Heap, Septimus and Marcia Overstrand battle the spreading Darkeness. Will Septimus succeed in protecting his Magykal world?
“A rushlight burned steadily at the foot of the stairs, for which Jenna was grateful—because looking up the flight of bare, worn wooden stairs that disappeared into the darkness gave her the creeps. Telling herself that Septimus probably was right and there was nothing at all to worry about, Jenna began to climb the stairs. She told herself that if she got to the top and everything was all right, she would forget all about it, but when Jenna was one step below the top she stopped. In front of her was a deep darkness that seemed to move and shift as she looked at it. It felt as if it were alive. Jenna was confused—part of her was terrified and yet another part of her suddenly felt elated. She had the strangest feeling that if only she stepped up into the darkness, she would see everything she had ever wanted to see, even her real mother, Queen Cerys. And as she thought about meeting her mother, the feeling of terror began to fade and Jenna longed to step into the dark, into the best place to be in the whole word—the place she had always been searching for.”
…When Simon’s human footsteps crept by, creaking the ancient floorboards, disturbing the air in a way that ghosts and Things do not, Sir Hereward ran up the passageway that led to Jenna’s room and ambushed Simon with a bloodcurdling yell of, “Have at you, Sirrah!”
“You sir, I know who you are!” Whoosh whoosh.
Sir Hereward’s surprisingly powerful boom of a voice filled the thick silence—and stunned the governess into welcome silence.
“I see your Heap hair”—whoosh—“and your scar. The Princess has told me all about you”—whoosh whoosh. “You, Sirrah, are the black sheep Heap”—whoosh. “You are the wicked brother who kidnapped your own defenseless sister!” Whoosh whoosh whoosh Sir Hereward raged.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
What I Liked:
Sage has accomplished something truly remarkable, in my opinion. She has created a series that gets better and better with each book, something that does not happen often (usually there’s more hills and dips). I feel like with every review, I say “This is my favorite book in the series” and now, yes, I am going to say it again: This is my favorite book in the series. The sad thing is that I think this is the penultimate book; the seventh (how appropriate; seven is a Magykal number) and last book, Fyre just recently came out.
The plot is great, the characters learn new things and develop even more in every book, and the humor is still all there. Jenna is still a little annoying but she has some interesting things happen to her that I hope will soon be reflected in her actions.
I think Beetle is my new favorite character. Next to Spit Fyre, of course.
The evil and villainy seems to get worse with every book. The Things, the Darke Domain and the Darke Dragon were probably the worst and scariest yet, even though Merrin’s attitude really puts a damper on his villain status. Although villains can be annoying, too. I just prefer it when they’re not.
Wonderful job, Angie Sage.
What I Didn’t Like:
As I said above, Jenna has her annoying moments in this book, but she gets less and less annoying with every book; a sign of her growth, I think (not just as a character, but also in “growing up” growth). There’s only a few moments when I want to shake her.
Merrin, Merrin, Merrin. You brat.
Septimus Heap is a series that continually gets better with every book, and Darke is the best one yet. A complex (for a middle grade book) plot, character growth and development, and even some suspense mixed with humor for comic relief, really make this book shine.
Coming Up Next: The Sin-Eater’s Confession by Ilsa J. Bick