Book Review: Ridley Pearson’s Dark Passage

Posted May 11, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Ridley Pearson’s Dark Passage

Dark Passage

on April 2, 2013 and has 437 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Sixth in the Kingdom Keepers urban fantasy series for kids revolving around holograms, Disney World, and a close-knit group of kids.

My Take

We pick up where we left off in Shell Game, 5, while Finn and Willa are flying through the air just after they’ve jumped off the Disney Dream. And it’s a mad race to survive!

This is the first time Pearson has concentrated on romance for Charlene and she’s torn between two boys while Amanda is frustrated with Finn who is torn between Amanda and Storey. It’s a mess. Then there’s the hinted retirement from their DHI roles. It’s not good.

That scene between Willa and Charlene where Charlie’s questioning who makes the decisions just feels too fake. As though some readers whined that the boys had all the power, so Pearson felt a need to address the issue.

Hmm, Finn has a point about the balance of power and the part the DHIs have played in upping the stakes. And yet another hmmm when Luowski feels as though a “drain plug has been pulled”. Keep an eye out for it and see if you come to same conclusion I did! Mattie has a point as well, one that she learned from Amanda and Jess, and I’m curious if it’ll lead to a spin-off series or part of the KK adventures.

Clever use of hibernation — parents might find this an interesting angle to use with the kids to encourage them to learn — ya never know what school teaches that you might need in a dangerous situation…*grin*!

Whoa…it’s kidnappings and the craziest chase scenes: under and over the water, through the AquaDuck, in caves — some are pretty disgusting, and over zip lines.

There are some minor loose threads in this: Dillard’s fate, which I’m guessing that Pearson is saving for The Insider; who the other kid is that Clayton found up in the pipes; and, how Finn’s mom got off the ship. And I must confess that I did not like the ending. For all its drama (and the accompanying relief), it felt disappointingly short and left me with a sense of loose ends. Besides the ones I’ve already whined about!

I dunno…it might be safer for the kids if they get retired…!

The Story

While the threat of replacement by the new beta version of the DHI 2.0 is hanging over the kids, they still have a mission to accomplish: prevent Maleficent, the Evil Queen, and Tia Dalma from carrying out their plans for Chernabog!

Only, Finn and Willa have jumped overboard from the Disney Dream to escape a pack of wild hyenas, and the ship is fast sailing away. If they don’t reboard quickly, their holograms will fall into shadow, and they’ll never awaken!

The Characters

Leadership seems to be splitting between the very intelligent Dill Philby‘s increasingly superior airs, who is lying, and keeping secrets, and Finn Whitman, who is questioning his role as the Kingdom Keepers’ leader. He does have a secret weapon from Triton, the King of the Sea who makes a valuable ally. The physically fit — and hot — Charlene Turner, a cheerleader at school and a starter on the gymnastics team, has a wounded shoulder — and a secret pash for Finn and Terry. Isabella “Willa” Angelo has her own not-so-secret love. Terry “Donnie” Maybeck is a fifteen-year-old artist who helps his Aunt Jelly in her shop and thinks he’s God’s gift to girls.

There are three Fairlies (fairly human, but with unique powers) in this story: Amanda Lockhart is telekinetic, Jezebel “Jess” is clairvoyant, and Mattie Weaver has the power of touch. All three girls have been projected into the cruise by Wanda at the end to help. Amanda and Jess are still in fostercare with Mrs. Nash and trying to duck the government while Mattie is a friend of Amanda and Jess who’s escaped a government facility in Baltimore. Dillard Cole is Finn’s closest friend outside the Keepers and he keeps popping up on the cruise — also sent by Wanda Alcott, Wayne’s daughter.

Finn’s mom has been Overtaken, and they can no longer trust her while Gladis Philby, Philby’s mom, is their chaperone on the trip.

Two of the six DHIs who have been created from Cast Members to augment the original Keepers have been placed onboard to help: Kenny Carlson and Bart.

Captain Cederberg is captain of the Disney Dream; Robert “Uncle Bob” Heinemann is the security officer Wayne told the kids to trust—oops; Clayton Freeman, a security wizard, has seen too much to brush the kids off without thought; Rafina is a fellow security officer; and, Storey Ming is a member of the crew helping the Keepers. Andy Meyers is a film director shooting a Disney Channel 365, and Jodi Bennett is a Disney Cruise Line executive who is managing the shoot.

Cast Members and characters of the Disney theme parks have begun to take sides. They think of Wayne Kresky, the head of the Imagineers, as the Elder. He’s the one who pulled the DHIs into this troupe of fighters.

Maleficent, the nasty witch from Sleeping Beauty, the Evil Queen, and Tia Dalma are working together to bring Chernabog completely to life. Somehow Maleficent has spelled other middleschoolers to do their dirty work—recognizable by their green eyes. Greg “Lousy” Luowski is one of them! And he has embraced the mayhem. Although…they’re starting to ask too much. Others who have been turned include Dixon, Victor, and Joe College.

The DHIs are Disney Host Interactives, a.k.a., Daylight Hologram Imaging, holograms which act as Park hosts for Disney. What most people don’t know is that “their holograms had been engineered by Disney’s Imagineers to do battle with…the Overtakers” (OTs), a dark force that includes the evil villains of Disney, eager to take over the world.

The Cover and Title

The cover carries on from Shell Game when Finn and Willa jump from the Disney cruise ship to escape the hyenas with Finn diving right at us and Willa running in mid-air while Tia Dalma looms large over all.

The title is part of life as Maleficent intones, that Dark Passage when “one must face one’s demons”, but Maleficent doesn’t understand that the kids have already faced one such passage, even as they must still endure the other.