Review – Dark Arena – Tom Palmer

I’ve been recommending Tom Palmer books to some of my reluctant readers for a while now but, for some reason, I’ve never got around to reviewing one. After revisiting Dark Arena with a child, I feel now is the time to break my duck so to speak.

Dark Arena is the second of the Defenders trilogy, with the final installment to be published very soon. For those who are unfamiliar with the first book in the trilogy – Killing Ground – Seth and Nadiya are the defenders who use Seth’s ability to see shadows of the past to help fight injustice. In this case, shadows of Roman slaves are seen across London and a construction worker on a new stadium has already met an unfortunate death. Seth and Nadiya must use the lessons from the past to prevent the past from repeating itself.

The premise of the trilogy of books clearly sets out to grab the attention of boys. Let’s face it, most boys I know (including a 10 year old me) are into football and ghosts. The joy of this book is that there is so much more. For starters, there is a poignant sub-plot about Seth’s mum. This is particularly refreshing as many similar books focus solely on the main plot and allows the reader to broaden their horizons. It is a book which, despite being accessible to many readers, has layers of meaning to access.

As with all of Tom Palmer’s books, the narrative is engaging yet easily accessible. The plot moves along quickly leaving the reader eager to find out what is happening and how it can be stopped. When reading for the first time, I devoured Dark Arena in one sitting. I just couldn’t put the book down.

This book was a refreshing read. It will appeal to those readers who don’t often pick up a book. At the same time, it has huge appeal to a broad spectrum of children thanks to its subject matter. I can’t wait for the next installment so keep your eyes peeled for Pitch Invasion over the coming weeks.

*As a teacher, I would also recommend looking at Tom’s website for a range of resources based on his books*

Age Recommendation: 7-11 years
Pages: 112 pages
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
ISBN: 978-1781127308

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