Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact Book Poster Image
Through-the looking-glass adventure not very original.

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age 9+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A window into life at an exclusive private school, and an introduction to class differences through the character of Darwen, a working-class kid from Northern England.

Positive Messages

The protagonist learns that neither dwelling on the past nor worrying too much about the future can match the value of present-day friends and family.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Darwen and his friends look out for each other and bravely fight against the monsters in the mirror. Although she's initially uncomfortable with her new role as a single parent, Darwen's aunt learns to communicate with her nephew.


Monsters wreak havoc in both the real world and within the mirror, but the violence is mostly of a cartoon variety, without any description of bloodshed.


"Chuffin' 'eck!" is as strong as it gets.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this fantasy novel follows the adventures of an 11-year-old orphaned British boy transplanted to Atlanta, GA, where he goes through a mirror to another world. He must not only stand up to bullies and unreasonable teachers at private school, but also protect our world from invading monsters from the enchanted mirror world.

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Kid, 12 years old May 12, 2019

What's the story?

An orphaned Brit now living in Atlanta with his distracted aunt, 11-year-old Darwen Arkwright spots a bizarre flying creature at the mall and follows it to a mysterious shop that sells nothing but mirrors. From the odd proprietor, Mr. Peregrine, Darwen receives a small mirror and hangs it on his closet door. At night, the mirror becomes a portal to an enchanted world, and when monsters from the other side threaten to spill out into our reality, Darwen and his friends must act to prevent a full-scale invasion.

Is it any good?

DARWEN ARKWRIGHT AND THE PEREGRINE PACT follows too closely the J.K. Rowling template. Although Darwen is from working-class Northern England and his adventures take place in Atlanta, GA, he and the new friends he's made at private Hillside Academy, fellow outsiders Alexandra and Rich, are a little too reminiscent of Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Author A.J. Hartley keeps the action moving steadily forward, but the plot doesn't achieve liftoff until its final chapters. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how difficult it might be for a biracial kid (one of his parents was white, the other black) from working-class England to adjust to a well-to-do private school in Atlanta. What are some of the cultural differences that set someone like Darwen Arkwright apart from his schoolmates?

  • One group of inhabitants of the mirror-world is stuck in the past, while another only looks forward to the future. What are some of the drawbacks to these approaches to life?

  • How can figures of authority, such as those at Darwen's school, abuse their power? What can students do to assert their rights?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love magic and fantasy

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