Review: The Dark Portal – Robin Jarvis

The Deptford Mice #1

SYNOPSIS: In the sewers of Deptford, there lurks a dark presence that fills the tunnels with fear. The rats worship it in the blackness and name it “Jupiter, Lord of All.” Into this twilight realm wanders a small and frightened mouse-the unwitting trigger of a chain of events that hurtles the Deptford mice into a world of heroic adventure and terror.  – via Goodreads

I read these books when I was a kid – and I mean a little rugrat. I recently saw this pop up while I was something totally unrelated on Amazon, and decided it was time to give it a shot again. Why not? How would it stack up after all these years? It was quiet a dark, fun adventure when I was a kid.

Well, let’s just say that this is perfect for the target group – kids. Definitely. Okay, a little darker than most kids books, but that worked, too. I feel that the writing was a little stiff in places, and I especially found the characters to be flat and lacking (most of them, anyway), and the author didn’t really build atmosphere and let you get into it. Like, as a kid this is not bad, the books barrels along and it has a fantasy aspect to it, and enemy, an adventure, all that, but when you get older, you want more spine in your book, you want a more solid story and characters that have more depth.

It’s not a bad read, but it just felt disjointed. Also, an editor needs to look at this. Spelling issues, layout issues, and so many problems with punctuation it was actually a chore at times to not completely lose my cool. I don’t know when last I read something that was this poorly edited! While the characters are flat, you can enjoy some of them sometimes, though it is fleeting. I could still see the characters in my mind as I did when I was younger, so that was pretty cool.

It also frustrated me that the book always felt like it was starting, it never felt like it was actually going anywhere, like it had developed into anything. The conclusion felt super rushed. Like I was reading and then it was suddenly over, and came across as messy. There was no sense of danger, no epiphany, no closure. It was just suddenly happening and then conveniently it was all over. I found it interesting to read about the landmarks in the book and actually have been to some of the places.

Anyway, there is not really much to say about The Dark Portal. It’s very good for the audience that it is intended for (speaking from experience, I really enjoyed these as a kid), but it does not hold up wonderfully for adults, to be honest. I had some nostalgia when reading, but it is not like reading Potter or Dr Seuss or anything like that from my youth. A decent read,  but not something I will be going over again.