Even when Ben feels a vicious fang slowly piercing his flesh, he knows what he is doing is right.

Ben will never betray his friends. He will never submit to the bullies, racists or anyone who tries to steer him from his path. Ben is growing up very quickly and soon gains many followers. This leads to a multitude of challenges and to one of his friends giving his life for Ben. As an eleven-year-old, he manages to avert a war and bring pride to different communities.

For Ben, falling into the lake and entering into different species presented many challenges…

…but the rewards will stay with him forever.


“Is this your first moult, Bob?”

I looked to see where the sound had come from. I had to twist my neck, but I finally saw a Bob next to me, looking in quite a bad state.

“Just keep wriggling,” he advised. “It’ll soon come off.”

I wriggled and wriggled until I was exhausted. Just as I was about to give up, I heard a crack and the crushing feeling eased a little.

“Don’t stop now, you’re almost there,” said Bob.

It was the strangest feeling I have ever experienced. Imagine being covered in a thin coating of plaster of Paris, and then bending at the waist. I twisted again and there was another crack. Finally, I was able to kick off the last bits of my shell and turn around to face Bob. I noticed that he too, had freed himself from his bonds.

“You’ll feel a little soft for a time,” he said. “That’s just until your new skin hardens.”

“Does this happen very often?”

“Yes, you’ll go through lots of moults. Feels great to be free of it, doesn’t it?”

I had to agree that my newfound flexibility was superb. I was half-hoping that, perhaps, my skin might not harden and that I could remain this flexible, but I did feel very vulnerable in such a soft shell.

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Patrick D.

Reviewed in the United States on May 28, 2011

Beyond Dark Waters by Des Birch is Prolific!

"There are so many threads weaving the levels of story taking place throughout this book that make the reader ponder themselves. The concepts are crafted very well and the creative ability of this author delivers a solid reading experience. There is such a strength in this story that will make you wonder how our culture would be different if this book were mandatory reading in the classroom."


Paula G

Reviewed in the United States on September 7, 2016

Good book

"Wow!!! This book would be a great book for teenagers. It tells Bens story of his adventures and his learning experiences through his life. I think it would really be a great book to learn from."


Carol Macfie Lange

5.0 out of 5 stars

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 19, 2014

I was hooked from the start by the poetically descriptive preface of this book. This quality of writing continues to the end, with "I often hear the blackbird's morning song" and "... sometimes we have to look beyond dark waters." Ben's boyish naughtiness towards his sister was human and often funny, ending with his realization of the importance of kindness and recognition towards her. The dialogue between the creatures was natural, funny and believable; I could see a short film for children emerging from this gift for dialogue. The moral and ecological messages were clear without being too intense (freedom of belief and living together within the system.) This endearing story would be excellent for reading and extended visual work in schools.
J. Birch
5.0 out of 5 stars 

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 29, 2014

a true gem
Looking for books for my new Kindle, I came upon this book by chance, and what a delight.....

The gift of 'grandparenthood' brings with it the opportunity to be a child again, to see through their eyes as it were. I have become a hunter of wisdom again, always on the alert for gems to impart to the new little person I have been given the gift of sharing.

Beyond Dark Waters is such a gem - it delivers valuable life lessons beautifully woven into a tale of courage and compassion, taking our hero into the watery world of creatures that are not at all surprised to find him there, having met Quinlings before. They understand that humans sometimes have to be reminded of the interconnectedness of life, and help Ben through each of the five stages so he can garner the valuable lessons in each. He encounters bullying, racism, substance abuse, true friendship, humility and responsibility along the way, helped along with the wisdom of GT, the golden tench and the fearlessness of Vashti the otter.

I would recommend this book be included into the school curriculum - lessons learned in Beyond Dark Waters parallel those that occur in life, and learnings through metaphor have far reaching effects.
Though is directed at young adults, all who have ever been a child, and those that still are will love this book. 

5.0 out of 5 stars

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 12, 2018

Best one so far