Review: The Griffin of Darkwood by Becky Citra

The Griffin of Darkwood by Becky CitraThe Griffin of Darkwood
Becky Citra
Coteau Books
Published on August 15, 2016

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About The Griffin of Darkwood
After 12-year-old Will Poppy’s mother dies, he finds himself moving to a run-down castle with an aunt he loathes and servants who are up to no good – and that’s just the beginning of his troubles.

Will Poppy has always been fascinated with writing – he thinks there’s something almost… magical about it. But when his mother dies, Will finds himself stuck living with his awful aunt, unable to write a single word (despite the fact that two Muses will not leave him alone) and handed a mysterious package which includes an old picture of his grandparents and a piece of cloth with the words “The Griffin of Darkwood” on it.

When his aunt decides to move both of them to a small village, Will is excited for a new adventure – in a castle no less! But after a rude welcome to the town that includes stories about a curse, and an introduction to the servants of the castle who evidently mean to cause him harm, Will’s sense of dread about the whole village rises.

What is the curse the villagers claim has been on the castle for hundreds of years, and what does it have to do with the disappearance of a young girl forty years ago? More importantly, what’s the Griffin of Darkwood, and what does it have to do with Will and his family?

My Review
My favorite thing about this book was the small town where Will and his aunt move after Will’s mom dies. I liked the sense of mystery and magic the town had and the connections between Will and the town the story revealed. Will’s friends made a fun cast of characters, too. I liked the way he related to each and the surprises that came from those relationships.

The Griffin of Darkwood is a pretty quick read with a nice balance between its more sinister elements of mystery and its themes of courage and community. After the heartbreak of losing his mom and being thrust into the care of his cruel aunt, Will finds comfort in new friends and mentors in the small village where he and his aunt move. At the same time, Will struggles to dodge his aunt’s schemes and the disdain of the two castle servants, who seem to wish him ill.

In Will’s grief over his mom’s death, he gives up writing. He learns, however, that telling stories is a powerful ability, and may be something of an inescapable gift. I liked the way his writing fit into the story as a whole.

Readers who enjoy fantasy stories and mysteries will find The Griffin of Darkwood a great addition to their bookshelves and reading lists. See below for content information.

Griffin of Darkwood on AmazonRecommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Cultural Elements
No real cultural information or descriptions given.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Will and his mother see literal representations of their Muses—companions who visit them as they write. After his mother dies, Will continues to see his Muse and hers.

At a local bookstore, Will briefly spots literary characters like Gandalf. The shop owner doesn’t seem surprised. The castle where Will and his aunt move is haunted by ghosts. Rumor says there’s a curse on the castle.

An old woman shows Will a crystal ball and he has a terrible vision. She tells him it’s because he “fell into” the crystal ball.

Will meets with a friend who uses Tarot cards to check her future. She suggests they consult a Ouija board for more information about Will’s quest.

Someone tells Will about a legendary tapestry weaver whose tapestries changed the future. Whatever he wove came to be.

Violent Content
A man threatens to kill Will. Will and his friends hear rumors of someone once tortured in the dungeon of the castle where Will lives.

A Sparrowhawk (bird of prey) catches a pigeon. A man tells Will that the bird will kill its prey.

Will finds tapestries depicting a group hunting for a griffin.

Drug Content

Griffin of Darkwood on Goodreads


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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 Responses to Review: The Griffin of Darkwood by Becky Citra

  1. Lorraine Burns says:

    This looks so good. My kids love mysteries so this will be perfect. They are currently reading James Hannibal’s The Fourth Ruby which is part of his The Lost Property Office series. They will not put this book down except to eat, and I think that’s ok.

    • Haha! Yes – I count it as a huge win finding a book which can only be put down to eat. 🙂 I haven’t read The Fourth Ruby, but I’m adding it to my list to check out. Have you read the Lemony Snicket series The Wrong Questions? That one had our household pretty captivated, too. Thanks, Lorraine!