By Helen Maslin

1. Abi: Darkmere was a great book to read as unlike most of the other books I have been reading it was horror. The book was set in the present day and you can understand the plot very easily, the reasons why a group of teenagers would want to spend their summer in an abandonded castle. I especially liked the way that every couple of chapters the story went back in time to follow Elinor, a girl who previously lived at the castle, and discover the dark past of Darkmere. I loved the way that the only route down the to sinister beach was through some cold, damp haunted tunnels. The tunnels kept me on the edge of my seat. I aslo liked Kate, the main character, but I found that Elinor was a lot more interesting. I think that the history in this book was accurate and I would have liked more chapters set in the past. I absolutely loved the idea of an old haunted castle in the middle of no-where. The ending deaths were quite unexpected but really suited the theme of a castle with a curse. I really enjoyed this book and I would be interested in reading another book by this author.

2. Ellie: Though I enjoyed this story and some of the characters, there are very few positive things I can say about it. Most of the characters make decisions that seem quite questionable, without hinting at why they may be making these decisions, and only one character, Elinor, seemed appealing as a person - which doesn't help the way things end up for her. The main character, other than Elinor, is a girl called Kate, who never seems to be able to make up her mind and seems extremely gullible and weak-minded throughout. The main group of characters are all supposed to be the best of friend except for Kate and the one other girl, Lucie, but none of them seem to particularly like each other, and the rivalry between them coupled with the surprisingly small amount of knowledge that they seem to know about each other in no way convinces the reader of their friendship. Overall, the story is interesting to read, and explores things that other writers probably would not want to explore (for good reason), but nothing about the story makes it anything I would want to read again. Ever.

3. Emma: I did not enjoy this book. I didn’t really even like any of the characters. I found it difficult to get into this book. I thought that the use of foul language was not acceptable for my age group. I found some of the sentences hard to understand due to the poor grammar. I would not recommend this book to children of my age or below. For me I didn’t think there were much historical events for this book to be a book to interest me to read more. Personally I wouldn’t read any more books by Helen Maslin after not really getting into this book

3. Ellie: I liked some things about this book and disliked others. Starting with the things I liked. I really enjoyed the historical parts of the novel. The story of Elinor was really good. The unfairness she faces because she is a girl and because her family want her to marry well made me angry. Had the book just been about her I would have loved it. I did not like the modern parts of the novel. I really didn't like. I didn't like the constant references to the characters being stoned. I don't think that was realistic at all.

4. Eve: I have read ‘Darkmere’, which is written by Helen Maslin. It is Helen’s first book and follows the story of Kate and her friend’s holiday at Darkmere Castle in Devon. The book in well written, however I believe that Kate and Elinor’s paths should have crossed.

The story begins when Kate is invited to spend the summer with Leo and his gang at a castle he has just inherited in Devon. She sees it as a great opportunity for her to become part of the gang and spend more time with Leo. However, when she arrives, she discovers the story of Elinor, a nineteenth century noblewomen. Now the curse is hanging over them all, and Kate must prove to the gang that they are all in danger.

I enjoyed the parts of the book which were narrated by Elinor, yet I struggled to relate to Kate. Also, I found that some of the characters weren’t described enough and that the book became slightly confusing. Similarly, I found that there wasn’t enough of the book devoted to the historical aspect of the story. Therefore, I don’t think I will read more books of this genre or any other books written by Helen Maslin, partly because I don’t really enjoy ghost books. Finally, I probably will not recommend the book to my friends and family.

6. Katie:  Darkmere is a book showing fragments of 1800’s England. Much like Crow Mountain (by Lucy Inglis) the book is spilt into two with the view of Kate a modern day girl and Elinor: a girl from the 19th century.

The book starts with a boy called Leo inviting Kate and a few friends to spend the summer at a castle he had recently inherited. Kate thinking it will be a great time to learn about her friends, gets drawn into the sad scary story of 19th century young bride Elinor who haunts the corridors and halls of the castle.

As I began the story I became interested in the modern time view because it has lots of twists and turns in the story. The past view was also interesting seeing how parents choose husbands for their daughters. It was very easy to put yourself in the shoes of the main characters Elinor and Kate. I related to Kate who was trying to become closer with her others friends since she was a bit of an outsider. And Elinor’s part was very descriptive about her thoughts and emotions.

The history in this novel wasn’t a big part in this book and I didn’t really learn anything about the era. This time era wouldn’t be on the top of my list to learn more about but still I would like to look in to it.

In conclusion i found this book very good especially nearing to the end as Helen Maslin tied the loose ends of the storyline. I would recommend this book to someone else. This book is fantastic!

7. Vilte: I like the bit where Leo invites Kate along for the summer because I thought it was kind of cute and awesome and my favourite character is Kate.

Do you think the history in the book was realistic?

Yes, because the author described her feelings and many girls I know have been through the same type of things.

Did the book make you want to find out more about history?

No because it didn’t have much about history.

Did the book make you want to read more books by this author?

Yes and I would recommend it to another pupil too.

8. Vinisha: When I read the blurb of the book I honestly wasn’t too impressed as it sounded a bit about romance more than being historical. Meanwhile I started to read the beginning of the book it had quite a bit of love scenes but as I continued reading this book I grew more and more into it.

Kate’s story was happening in the present as she has been invited to spend the summer with Leo (her crush) and his friends at the Darkmere castle that is inherited in Cornwall. She thinks it’s a marvellous opportunity for her to feel part of the ‘gang,’ and a chance to get on with Leo. As soon as she arrives she realises that the halls of this castle are haunted with the ghost of Elinor, the maid who once lived here when the St.Cloud’s owned it. Unfortunately, her curse is haunting them all and could hurt them all just as equally.

Whereas, Elinor’s devastating story (in 1825) was in the past and it is telling us what happened to make the castle haunted at Darkemere. I was feeling so unpleasant for the two sisters who disappointed their unsympathetic mother and it was horrible to see their relationship fall apart. Elinor’s story came with real sense of being trapped: in the castle, in her room, in an awful marriage.

This book was full of surprises and never quite went where I expected it to. Both narratives were building up to something heart-stopping and the tension is almost unbearable. The setting of the castle sounds quite haunted and gothic. 

Each of the characters is exceptionally well drawn. The description of appearances and physicality are quite detailed. My favourite characters were Kate and Elinor as they are both quite pretty and they appeal to me the most. In addition, I also liked more minor characters such as Lucie (independent, not to be messed with). 

This book had gripped me off the edge of my seat for the entire creepy journey.  I have always been a fan of horror books and this is definitely one of my favourite books I have ever read.

9. Grace: Darkmere is written from two perspectives, from Kate, a scholarship student at a private school and Elinor St. Cloud, an old inhabitant of Darkmere ‘castle’. The author uses this very well. Helen Maslin even decided to change the font between the characters, using a modern looking font for Kate which I thought was a nice effect.

We start off with Kate, the quiet, studious scholarship girl who isn’t that popular. She’s invited to spend the summer with Leo, who contrasts greatly with her. Leo is the popular guy of the school who everyone knows.  She finally feels part of the gang turns out that Leo’s estate is haunted by Elinor and the curse effects them all.

In my opinion, I believe that the settings were well described but I didn’t get to know the characters that well apart from Kate and Elinor. For example, I felt all I knew about Leo is that he was a rebellious rich kid, it didn’t go into much depth with character description. It also displays the boys as being sexist and derogatory towards women with words like ‘scrubber’ and ‘slapper’ I generally feel that this is a distorted perspective and boys of a similar age would not behave in the same way.

The plot was original and the good use of the dual narrative makes this book a worthwhile read but it has no historical significance. There’s some gore swearing and language. This book has a thrilling end but some unnecessary parts but is overall a decent book.

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