Release date: February 2012
Target audience: Emerging Readers, 7+
UK Publisher: Catnip Publishing
Digging in the Dark is a short novel for young readers. It’s a comic family story with a real adventure and is a great first novel for boys.
Josh is as surprised as his mum and sister Izzie, when their cousin Malcolm is dumped on their doorstep. His aunt and uncle disappear without a word of explanation and Malcolm refuses to say where they’ve gone. Josh suspects they may be on the run after committing a fiendish crime. But whatever the reason, Josh is lumbered with his uncommunicative cousin. Josh tries to be friendly but Malcolm doesn’t share his interests. In fact Malcolm is only interested in one thing: archaeology.
This short novel is packed full of twists and turns. The plot is incredibly tight and even though I was sure I knew why Malcolm’s parents had disappeared, I couldn’t have been more wrong. What a talented writer Hilda Offen is! As an adult reader, I enjoyed this book so much. Josh’s character is easy to relate to. He tries to do the right thing by his cousin even though he’s annoying. There is also the great problem children face on a daily basis: embarrassing parents.
As well as the family comedy, the book is full of drama and action. There is a wild sense of freedom for the boys as they venture over the back garden and into the overgrown woodland beyond. Boys who love reading historical non-fiction will delight in reading this book. There are lots of references to the Ancient Romans and World War II.
Digging in the Dark is an outstanding novel. I can’t think of a single aspect of the writing that could be improved. There were great chapter endings that had me wanting to read on and there was a convincing witty narrative. The book is beautifully interspersed with illustrations which add to the comic, tightly woven plot. I wholeheartedly recommend it!
Source: Review copy sent by Catnip.