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Dark Eyes review

If you’re a fan of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you’ll love Wally, the ass-kicking teen heroine of this pacy thriller…

 Dark Eyes by William Richter

 Paperback published August 2012 by Razorbill, Penguin Books (UK)



Book jacket blurb:

Born in Russia but adopted by a wealthy American family as a baby, Wallis Stoneman was brought up in a world of glamorous luxury. Then at the age of sixteen, beautiful and rebellious Wallis rejects the life that doesn’t feel like her own and lives as a street-kid on the gritty streets of New York.

But the streets throw up more than she bargained for and she discovers a deadly secret to her past that will change Wallis’ life forever. Her real father is a terrifyingly dangerous Russian gangster. And he is on the hunt for her mother. He will stop at nothing and no one – even his own blood – to find her.

Can Wallis find her mother before her father kills them both?

The review:

This is one of those books that drops you straight in the action and keeps you hooked right to the end. There are hair-raising car chases. There are bloody gun battles. There are tantalising clues, Russian gangsters, underhand precious gem deals, surprising twists and turns, even a dash of romance. And at the centre of it all is Wallis Stoneman, a sassy, ass-kicking teen who could give Lisbeth Salander a run for her money, just as the hype about the book claims. She wields a firearm with style, knows some bad-ass martial art moves and can wheel and deal with Harlem crime world’s finest. All this and she’s only sixteen! I loved her.

The plot follows the resourceful Wally, helped by her street crew, as she tries to track down her Russian birth mother, with the action set against the grimy background of the New York streets. The author doesn’t shy away from the harsher realities of life there and the violent criminal underworld Wally finds herself coming up against. This was one factor that made the book stand out for me as strong young adult fiction – that there’s no attempt to wrap the reader in cotton wool, and neither are these grim aspects glamorised in any way.

What makes Wally believable as a character is that behind her tough exterior there is a softer, caring side, and a need to belong, shown through the attention she lavishes on her crew and her fierce loyalty to them. There is also a love interest for her which leads to some touching scenes and difficult decisions. But she doesn’t let this distract her from her goal – quite refreshing in a teen heroine!

William Richter is a Hollywood screenwriter and you can definitely see the cinematic influence in the writing, particularly the fast-paced action scenes. But the novel has a deeper side to it too, about the search for a sense of self, and it’s not without humour – the way that Wally leaves NYPD Detective Atley Greer a few steps behind at every turn raised a few smiles for me. I’d like to see him back as an ally for Wally in any future instalments. Though Dark Eyes works as a standalone book, the ending does suggest there could be further adventures for Wallis Stoneman to come – let’s hope there are!

Leave a comment


  1. Herman

     /  August 27, 2012

    Ooh, this one sounds good! I need to read it to find out how a 16 year old can suddenly become so self-sufficient and at home with the Harlem crims! I need street-skills!

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