Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: The Dark Inside
Author: Rupert Wallis
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: 30 Jan 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

When thirteen-year-old James discovers a homeless man in an abandoned house, the course of his life changes dramatically. Hoping to find a ‘cure’ for a dark curse inflicted on the homeless man, the pair embark on a journey together not knowing that what they discover will impact them both in ways they never imagined…A gripping and haunting story about loss and hope, perfect for fans of Patrick Ness and David Almond.


The synopsis of this novel doesn’t give away too much so I was left wondering before I even got started – which is always a good start, sometimes summaries say too much!

James is a young boy who is forced to live with his stepfather and girlfriend after girlfriend. He seems complex without too much delving into his psyche and once he discovers Webster he comes into his own. Both of the key characters in this novel become more fascinating together than they could ever have been on their own.

This book is a definite must-read for fans of David Almond’s Skellig. I vividly remember reading this book over 10 years ago, which is quite shocking now I think about but not entirely relevant. Webster’s character does seem quite close to Skellig although the paranormal aspects of David Almond’s novel are a little more cut and dry. This is what makes The Dark Inside a great read for me – yes, there’s paranormal activity but it’s not jammed down my throat. I’m not a werewolf/vampire/anything that isn’t real kind of reader and therefore when it is presented to me it needs to be good and The Dark Inside is good.

The contemporary feel of The Dark Inside far overrides the paranormal and I found myself far more interested in the characters and where their journey would lead them then the ‘dark curse’.

Wallis’ use of language is sparing. Words seem to be picked out singularly for how they’ll effect the tone of the novel, which remains brooding throughout. There are no examples of excessive description yet you feel like you really know every element of every scene from what buildings look like to the expressions on characters’ faces.

Follow James through a journey of grief, loss, despair and survival – it’s worth it.