In my opinion Dark Earth seems aimed at a younger Young Adult audience.
Jason Halstead starts off the story in modern US and then takes us to a parallel world set to a pre-industrial age. He describes this Dark Earth as meaner and greedier than our own. Perhaps that is due to the younger audience he is writing for and possibly a need to create a good and a bad world. I certainly know of plenty of people who are as mean and greedy on our side of the gates. Places that are more or less pre-industrial are in existence although these are becoming fewer by the decade.
Our heroes are Eric, who lost his wife 13 years ago, and his 13-year-old daughter Jessica. Eric is still caught in the grief of his wife being killed while in her 8th month of pregnancy. When a guy turns up at his house attempting to murder his daughter, Eric is understandably frustrated, angry, afraid and reminded of his previous loss. Then Eric and Jessica discover that they are part of a 2000-year-old legacy that reaches across to parallel world. Now the two will also have to deal with Jessica being kidnapped and Eric being bitten by a strange wolf.
I read Dark Earth a long time ago but had forgotten to write a review for it. That meant I had to read it again. Jason Halstead certainly writes well enough for me to also enjoy the second reading. Although Jessica was the person of interest to the various parties, Eric was the character that I saw the most of. He was the one that showed growth and development.
There was plenty of action and some violence. Only one short bit might be considered by some parents as too much for the youngest children. Other than that, Dark Earth must be one of the safer stories out there for a Young adult audience. There was no swearing, very little violence, some sadness and no romance (except in the memory of Eric and his late wife).