Book Review: EVERDARK by Abi Elphinstone (Middle Grade Monday)

Title in uneven white letters on an orange sea with a girl and a monkey in a boat
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - prequel


Book cover for EVERDARK: title on a moon above a pink sea

It is midnight in Crackledawn – a midnight full of magic. Sea dragons stir in the depths of the ocean, silver whales surface beneath the moon and sand goblins line the shores. Everyone is waiting for the phoenix, the guardian of the kingdom’s magic, to rise up from the forests of Everdark.

But there is no sign of the phoenix tonight. Something else surges up out of Everdark instead: a harpy bent on stealing Crackledawn’s magic.

It is up to an eleven-year-old girl called Smudge and an eccentric monkey called Bartholomew to set sail beyond the legendary Northswirl and stop the harpy before it’s too late.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


EVERDARK was originally released as a world book day book – a small little story (in very cheap printing to keep costs down) that kids can get for £1 here – ahead of RUMBLESTAR’s release. As happens with these special little releases, it went out of print after the next year’s celebration. However, as it’s so integral to the overall story of the series, it’s been re-released with a new cover to match the updated series’ design. It’s also in the same printing format (aka, UK standard and not a cheap binding.)

This book includes the origin story of the series’ villain, how she first came to be terrorising the Unmapped Kingdoms, and how she was first defeated. There are a a lot of references to this story in the other books so far, so it was nice to finally understand what happened. You can very much read and enjoy the other books without this one, but it does add another layer of understanding to read this one.

It’s set in the ocean kingdom, so it’s a boat book! Smudge and her friend Bartholomew take and enchanted boat further than any living explorer, facing whirlpools, giant waves, and sea witches. Bartholomew stole a lot of page time, being a fussy little monkey who likes tea and golf. His antics made me giggle a fair bit.

EVERDARK’s heroine, Smudge, is dyslexic, based on the author’s own experiences. The last few years have seen an increase in diversity in MG, which means books like this no longer stand out so much as “rare”, but they’re definitely not “the norm” yet, so it’s always nice when you stumble upon these books by accident.

Apparently this summer’s release of THE CRACKLEDAWN DRAGON is the final entry into this series! I thought we were getting two more books rather than one!

Read my reviews of other books by Abi Elphinstone:

The Unmapped Chronicles (this series):

The Dreamsnatcher:



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