Amanda Reads · Book Reviews · Prairie Books NOW! · Reviews · Young Adult

Review of “Griffin of Darkwood” by Becky Citra.

*This article is originally from the Fall/Winter edition of Prairie Book NOW magazine, with quotes from the author Becky Citra, copies of the magazine can be found for FREE in bookstores and Libraries across Western Canada, find the current edition online HERE.*


Will Poppy is a boy with an extraordinary writing talent, that is until his author mother unexpectedly passes away. Will is then forced to live with his horrid Aunt Mauve, who detests writing and forbids Will to continue writing, not that he had any desire to continue after losing his mother. Vancouver author Becky Citra tells a story of loss, adventure and mystery as Will and Mauve leave the city and head to Sparrowhawk, a tiny town with a castle, Sparrowhawk Hall, which Mauve has purchased as if she were under a spell. Mauve is a nasty character, and Citra believes every fantasy story requires a villain, “In “real life”, of course, no one is all good or all bad but in a fantasy it’s fun to have a truly wicked character.” The author states that there is such a contrast between Will’s deceased mother Adrienna, who is kind, gentle and loving and Aunt Mauve who is conniving, grasping and spiteful, giving the reader more reason to feel sympathetic towards Will and his situation.

Once Will and Mauve arrive in Sparrowhawk, the residents were not in any rush to make them feel welcome (complete with the words “GO AWAY” painted on the front door) but Will was fortunate enough to make two friends quickly – Thom and Emma. They help Will learn all about the town of Sparrowhawk and Sparrowhawk Hall, and the mysteries surrounding the “curse” that has fallen upon the hall. Thom and Emma help Will explore the castle and the history of Sparrowhawk, discovering that there are medeival tapestries that help unlock the mysteries of the weird noises and experiences happening in the castle. Becky states that the idea of medieval tapestries telling a story was the starting point for developing the plot of The Griffin of Darkwood, and there are secrets hidden in the tapestries in this story.

Will’s mother Adrienna was inspired by her muse, an Ancient Greek woman in a long white dress and green leaves in her hair and Will was inspired by his muse, a knight. Citra says she is fortunate enough to have muses “They are the children that I taught during my career as an elementary school teacher. We shared hundreds of books together as one of my favourite times of the school day was Storytime. I have retired from teaching now but when I write I am inspired by those children – their interests, what they loved about books, what sparked their imagination. I love the opportunities I have to visit schools and libraries to talk about my books and reconnect with students.” Will struggles with his desire to write after his mother dies, and the two muses hang around trying to inspire him to write, but he is not ready.
Griffin of Darkwood is a novel full of history, adventure and mystery; “To make a story interesting and suspenseful, the characters must face obstacles. The solution for Will could not be easy.


Until next time,

Amanda xo.

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