Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Dark Terror

Publish November 3, 2015

The year is 1915, and fifteen-year old Alec Shorecross supports his family by working in Newfoundland’s perilous Terra Nova copper mine. But Alec and his friend James dream of contributing to the war effort overseas, and when their chance comes, Alec hopes to for a riveting life above ground as a pilot. Instead, Alec’s valuable mining experience sends him back underground. This time, he must not only be alert to natural mining dangers, but also to the smallest movements of German soldiers laying bombs in tunnels nearby. His life – and those of his new friends and allied soldiers – depends on it. John Wilson has published numerous historical fiction titles for kids, teens, and adults. In Dark Terror, the second book in his Tales of War series, he places middle-grade readers in the claustrophobic, unstable tunnels of the First World War. “The war below ground is a strange combination of hard work, boredom, and stark terror – all carried out in incredibly confined, horrifying conditions,” Wilson says in the afterword, and that’s exactly what he demonstrates here. Candle-lit tunnels collapse, toxic gases threaten, and many (including Alec) are injured or killed. Photographs add gravity to the story, reminding readers that real people faced these horrific conditions. Wilson also includes the names of his real-life inspirations in the back matter. Dark Terror is part adventure and part history, with just a hint of romance. It’s a fast-moving, gripping take on a little-explored side of the war effort, just in time for Remembrance Day.

Dark Terror

John Wilson
Penguin Random House of Canada: Doubleday Canada
ISBN 13: 978-0-385-67832-2

Jen Bailey
Jen Bailey Jen Bailey is an Ontario-certified teacher who holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She works for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Jen’s other book reviews have appeared in Quill & Quire and Canadian Children’s Book News.

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