The Diamond of Darkhold

Series finale goes back to adventure.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Lina and Doon sneak off into the wilderness, though for good reasons.


A graphic description of sheep butchering. A boy is kidnapped and chained up.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is a brief but graphic description of the butchering of a dead sheep for meat. Otherwise there is little to be concerned about here.

What's the story?

Living in the town of Sparks, Lina and Doon get the remains of an ancient book from a roamer. Though only a few pages are left, it seems to hint at a gift that the Builders of Ember left to help its citizens after they emerged. With conditions deteriorating in Sparks, and the people skirting starvation, they decide to return to the abandoned underground city to look for the device, and to see if there are supplies left there that could help Sparks. But Ember isn't as deserted as they expected.

Is it any good?


Lina and Doon, both winning characters, are back front and center, and most of the other characters are peripheral, some so much so that one might wonder what they're doing there. In fact there's an entire subplot that could be removed from the book without any loss of sense or pleasure. But Ember itself is as fascinating as ever -- there's just something about an underground city, even in the dark, that haunts the imagination. Author Jeanne Duprau also has a talent for observing the nitty-gritty details while imagining her way into the lives of her characters, using sensory description in a way that is, even in the midst of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi tale, intensely realistic.

DuPrau has said that she never planned Ember to be a series. No kidding. While book 3 seems hardly to belong to the series at all, the others do at least follow a chronology, though they are very different. Book 1 combined adventure and philosophy, while book 2 leaned more heavily on the ideas and allegory, and less on the action. Now the series wraps up with a book that is closer to a pure adventure, though still with a few interesting ideas floating around. For series fans it's a treat, in more ways than one, and ends in a thoroughly satisfying and hopeful way.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about electricity. Is it as essential to civilization as the author describes it? Is it possible to have a livable culture without it? If you could leave one gift for future survivors of worldwide disaster, a gift that would help them rebuild a modern society, what would it be?

Book details

Author:Jeanne DuPrau
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Random House
Publication date:August 21, 2008
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14
Read aloud:9
Read alone:10

This review of The Diamond of Darkhold was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 17 years old Written byprttystar4 July 7, 2009
age 11+
This is an amazing book bringing up awareness of how we use our earth energy uses an has great lessons!


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass