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Reviewed by Kimberley Nielsen, School Librarian, Kamo Primary
Opening sentence
The rain-wet woods, a hover of mist just below the treetops, brief flurries of drizzle escaping through the boughs of the firs.
The Stars did Wander Darkling is a book that employs many traditional horror tropes such as: calling cards of evil; premonitions, and warnings from strangers; clones/replacements; an unnamed evil; the finding of old footage; inclement weather; and old abandoned buildings.

The author lays a trail of breadcrumbs, drawing the reader in, giving them a sense of unease that continues to build and keeps them gripped as the story unfolds. He also develops a great sense of time and place, filled with 80’s nostalgia and description that makes it easy to believe Seaham, the fictitious town he created, is real.

This book is classed as middle fiction, generally considered as being for 8–12 year olds. However, this book contains some violent events which, I believe, make it unsuitable for this age group. These include:

- A boy hides from the “bad guys” among the bodies of other people who are in a sleep-like state. In an attempt to find the boy his assailants stab some of the bodies around him, killing them.

- The protagonists witness two deaths – a person getting their throat slit, and another having their head bashed in with a rock.

The Stars Did Wander Darkling is a horror that engages the reader, building suspense as the story unfolds. However, due to occasional violent content, it is unsuitable for its target audience. It may well be enjoyed by horror-loving teens, but I wonder if they would be put off by the cover art which is pitched at younger readers.
Author & Illustrator: Colin Meloy
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 9781760657192
Format: Paperback
Publication: Jan, 2023
Ages: 13+
Themes: Horror, mystery, friendship