Janet Collins is a freelance writer in Sechelt, British Columbia.
Award-winning Canadian author Kenneth Oppel has another winner on his hands, this time via the prequel to his hugely popular Silverwing trilogy.
Set 65 million years ago, Darkwing depicts the tale of Dusk, a fictional representation of the first bat. Being the only one in the colony capable of powered flight (the rest can only glide), he quickly becomes an outcast. When half of the colony is wiped out by predators, Dusk uses his unique ability to help the survivors find a new home.
The hallmark of a good fantasy series is the author’s ability to create both well-rounded characters and a believable, albeit fictional, world. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series forms a case in point. Oppel delivers and then some. With clever nods to the prehistoric world (e.g., several of the characters’ names stem from their taxonomic label, hence Quetzalcoatlus becomes Quetzals) may entice readers to find out more about the Paleocene era and evolution in general. Other readers will simply thrill to read the finely crafted story with well-rounded characters, to say nothing of the dark imagery—what is it about giant spiders that makes them so attractive to young adult fiction writers?
The winner of a prestigious Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz book award, among other honours, Darkwing is certain to be a young adult classic. Or I’m totally bats! Recommended.