DARING DARLEEN: QUEEN OF THE SCREEN, by Anne Nesbet, Candlewick Press

When a publicity stunt goes terribly wrong, twelve-year-old Darleen Darling, star of the silent film era, must defeat villains both on screen and off in this edge-of-your-seat adventure.

Lights! Camera! Kidnapping?

It’s 1914, and Darleen Darling’s film adventures collide with reality when a fake kidnapping set up by her studio becomes all too real. Suddenly Darleen finds herself in the hands of dastardly criminals who have just nabbed Miss Victorine Berryman, the poor-little-rich-girl heiress of one of America’s largest fortunes. Soon real life starts to seem like a bona fide adventure serial, complete with dramatic escapes, murderous plots, and a runaway air balloon. Will Darleen and Victorine be able to engineer their own happily-ever-after, or will the villains be victorious?

Out April, 2020

368 Pages


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

You have to love middle-grade books like this. Edgy, fast-paced, creative, exhilarating, thrilling and wildly entertaining.

Set in the early 1900s, in New York and New Jersey, our character finds herself in Fort Lee, a visionary hot-spot pre-Hollywood. Lots of excellent research went into this book, making the setting bold, realistic and perfect for a kidnapping.

Silent film before “talkies” used women and girls far more than they do even today. Many of the crazy action scenes included women defying safety and gravity. Sexism, although present, wasn’t a pressing mechanism for control and role availability. It was a time for fun, adventure and risk.

Our heroine, Darleen, twelve going on 40, is an action film star who reluctantly agrees to a fake kidnapping to promote her films and becomes suddenly involved in a real-life kidnapping of an heiress who is also twelve. Luckily it is foiled but not before becoming fast friends with the heiress. There’s a conspiracy and villains and action-packed scenes that hurl the book to a great ending.

I love how Darleen is fully fleshed out and quirky, energetic, and thoroughly enjoyable. The adult characters, although I think a bit over-written to the point of being annoyingly depictable. All in all, it’s a good fun read and I recommend it to all middle-graders and adults alike. A great historical factor is included so this book would make a great school read.

I gave it:

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