It may be a teen romance with no “adult” content whatsoever, but this could well be one of the most mature books you’ll read all year.
A synopsis might make you think it will be the usual rubbish: Ellie is recovering from the death of her mother over a year earlier by staying with her grandparents while her father is in the States with a new girlfriend. She joins up with a group of teens who are putting on a play in the seaside town, and discovers a Victorian toy theatre whose handsome maker is somehow able to communicate with her.
What makes the book work is all the things it doesn’t have: no special powers for Ellie, no clique of mean girls, no parade of gorgeous boys (just one arty chap to balance out the ghostly one), no descriptions of outfits. Ellie is the central character, but Sarah Singleton doesn’t feel the need to make her the prettiest, the most talented, the one all the boys want.
There’s a refreshing reality to most of Dark Storm . Ellie isn’t always pleasant; you can understand that she’s hurting over losing her mother and the fact that her father can be happy with someone else, but also that the way she expresses that hurt causes pain to her grandparents and father. In the end, this isn’t a shallow love story but an exploration of all sorts of love, and loss. Beautiful.
Read more of our book reviews .