Title: The Dark Inside
Author: Rupert Wallis
Publication date: 30 January 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: 368 pages
Age group: Young Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
In a nutshell
The House on the Hill has been abandoned for as long as James can remember. So when he discovers Webster, a drifter, hiding there, he’s instantly curious about the story behind the homeless man. What is he running from?
Afflicted by a dark curse, Webster is no longer who he used to be. But there is said to be a cure and it might just be that by helping Webster, James will find some solace of his own. Together they embark on a journey, not knowing that what they discover will impact them both in ways they never imagined…
Although the synopsis doesn’t reveal too much about the story, I was intrigued by the mysterious premise of the book. What is Webster running from? What is this dark curse? Will they find a cure before it’s too late? It sounded like an action-packed story full of twists and turns but in the end, it turned out to be quite different from what I expected. It’s not a bad book. Far from it. It just didn’t really work for me.
The first thing that took me a while to get used to is the fact that The Dark Inside is a mixture of fantasy and reality. It’s a very fairytale-like novel. There’s a bad witch and her loyal son, potions, curses, magic, you name it. Yet, the novel is set in an everyday place, somewhere in a small English village. Magical elements are mixed with real problems, real characters throughout the book. I kept wondering what to think: is this a magical tale? Is this real? What’s going on? This clash of two different worlds shouldn’t be a bad thing. But, again, it didn’t work for me.
The second one – and probably my biggest issue with this book – is that I couldn’t connect with the characters. I really liked the friendship between James and Webster but not enough to overlook the fact that most of the characters were quite one-dimensional. It might be just me but I didn’t find them well-rounded enough to make me want to find out what happens to them.
Another thing I found strange is the book’s language. Based on how simple and easy-to-read it is (perhaps a bit too simple for my taste), the novel could be categorized as Young Adult or even middle-grade. But the violent scenes and the dark theme of the book is definitely for an older audience.
I’ve heard great things about this book pre-publication but for me, something was missing. It might have been different if the characters were more fully developed (flat characters usually ruin it for me), but with everything else, it just didn’t work for me.
*Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy for review*