The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis Review: Story of Redemption & Forgiveness

January 19, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis Review: Story of Redemption & ForgivenessThe Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis
Published by Simon and Schuster Australia on June 19, 2014
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult
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The House on the Hill has been abandoned for as long as James can remember. So when he discovers Webster, a drifter, hiding there he's instantly curious about the man and what he's running from.
Afflicted by a dark curse, Webster is no longer the person he used to be. But there's said to be a cure and it might just be that by helping Webster, James will find some solace of his own. Together they embark on a journey, not knowing that what they are about to discover will shape them both in ways they never imagined.

I’m not actually sure what I just read.

The Dark Inside starts off with James who is abused by his stepfather, runs away from home after finding a new friend – old man Webster who is suffering from PTSD from war. I liked their fast friendship, and the idea of two damaged souls finding a friend in one another, and was curious where their adventures would take us. It’s a book filled with adventures, as the duo stumble upon a farm, meet an old man and then get captured by an old woman and her son.

“I’ve been done wrong,” said Webster. “Someone’s done me a great wrong. And now I’m dark inside because of it. I’m something else. Broken apart then put back together.” 

This is where it takes quite an unexpected paranormal turn, when curses and potions and creatures of the night are featured. It also turns quite dark, with several deaths and Webster wanting to be redeemed for his darker ‘curse’. The writing never says it outright, but we’re lead to believe that Webster has the curse of the werewolf/some other paranormal creature, and the witch and apprentice/old woman and the son are trying to rid him of it. What really threw me off though, was the writing stayed in quite a realistic and believable setting. Is it meant to be magical realism? This is why mixing contemporary and paranormal just doesn’t work for me.

Even the actions of the old woman or supposed witch was quite confusing, she is presented as an enemy at the start but comes to care for James later on. We’re lead to believe she only wants to help rid Webster of his curse, whereas in reality she’s actually holding James hostage and looking to commit murder. It’s her presence in the novel that really muddied the waters, with my brain unable to process whether her character was real or imagined as a result of James and Webster’s trauma.

James took Webster’s shaking hands in his and held them until they were steady. Only then did they walk on down the path. 

I feel there’s a fair amount of symbolism which the novel alludes to, like James and Webster encountering dark and difficult situations they must ‘escape’ from in order to accept the realities of their situation. James, struggling against the unfairness of his stepfather’s abuse, evolves into a character who comes to forgive and care for Webster. And Webster, struggling against the trauma of war, helps James cope. Their unlikely friendship is beautiful and made them grow into characters who were less haunted, out of their love for each other. The ending was quite powerful, clearly outlining the impact of their journey with one another.

The writing in The Dark Inside was reminiscent of a fairy tale, kind of dream-like and taking us through one adventure to the next. I’m actually surprised that the author could skirt the line between contemporary and paranormal so well, making us question whether it was all real in the first place.

“There isn’t just one world…There’s billions…Everyone’s standing on their own world, spinning around each other, trying not to collide.” 


I came into The Dark Inside not knowing anything about it, becoming really drawn into it from it’s short chapters and fast friendship between characters, and then being confused by its contents. Regardless of whether some aspects in the novel were real or intended, I’ve come to appreciate the underlying message of forgiveness and redemption, spawning from two unlikely friends. A beautiful novel of magical realism, which you’d particularly enjoy if you like fairy tales and don’t mind the dream-like contemporary/paranormal mashup.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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27 responses to “The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis Review: Story of Redemption & Forgiveness

  1. I hadn't heard of this book before now, but it does seem interesting, at least. I know it can be hard to blend some genres. I recently read a book which was fantasy and mystery, and it was a bit weird to have those two together in the way they were included. I do like the idea of the pacing which pulled you in. Not sure where I stand with this book yet!

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  2. Sounds haunting and wonderful and maddeningly surreal! The thing about it skirting the line between paranormal and contemporary . . . I'm intrigued how that was managed!!

    (Also, yay for a novel with roots based in friendship!)

  3. I felt pretty much the same about this one too Jeann. I enjoyed it, but didn't fully understand the symbolism of Webster and what he meant in terms of the storyline. I struggle with magic realism at times too, and this one left me mostly baffled. The storyline without the 'curse' would have been utterly brilliant. I loved the underlying message of forgiveness as well. But the same as you, the paranormal didn't work for me either.

    Brilliant review Jeann <3
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  4. Symphony of Words

    Honestly, this sounds like something I would devour. I love it when the line between real and not-real, paranormal and contemporary, is blurred and the MCs cannot be depended upon to tell the truth about what's going on. Reminiscent fairy-tale? Beautiful review, Jeann 🙂

  5. I really adore magical realism, but only when you know the book is going to be based around magical realism. And it takes a very special author to write such a book that's out of this world but realistic at the same time. I got quite confused about this book just reading your review. The witch's motivations were so weird…help and yet..murder? Wahhh?!

    • Yeah, most of the time it\’s caught up to me as a surprise like in Landline (although I should have seen it coming). I think you might like this book then, Joy! Yeah, I couldn\’t understand the witch\’s motivation, but it was still a beautiful book.

  6. This one sounds like such a gorgeous reading, Jeann! I like the idea of a book that focuses on a friendship between two people running away from their demons! And I actually like the idea of the PNR and curses that seem to be thrown in. I actually went to go add this one to my TBR but it seems I already have it?!?!?! Maybe I should focus on reading it then?? 😛

    Fantastic review, hon! 🙂
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    • It was quite a lovely read and I like the way you described it too Rashika. If you do read it, I can\’t wait to hear your thoughts!