Darkmouth: Chaos Descends by Shane Hegarty
|Darkmouth: Chaos Descends by Shane Hegarty
|Category: Confident Readers
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
|Summary: Huge vicious monsters with a grudge, a world in peril – and only twelve-year-old Finn can save the day. Fast-moving, colourful, and very, very funny.
|Date: April 2016
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
|External links: Author's website
Poor Finn just never gets a break. Like it or not he's a trainee Legend Hunter – which sounds quite jolly until you realise he doesn't spend his life in a nice quiet library looking up fairy tales from the distant past. Quite the opposite: Legends are the most vicious, bloodthirsty monsters you can imagine, and his village in Ireland just happens to be the place they use as a portal on their frequent attempts to conquer Earth.
Worse than that, he's actually crossed to the Infested Side and defeated the army of monsters once before, so they bear a severe grudge against him. And even worse still, if you can imagine it, he's about to turn thirteen. Which means speeches, ceremonies, demonstration fights, loads of wrinkly retired Hunters wittering on about the good old days, and silly stuff like epaulettes stuck onto his battle armour. Give him a punch-up with a Hydra or a Fomorian any day.
Scary? Yes, and life just keeps on getting difficult for Finn. It's ten months since he returned through Darkmouth's Cave, and his best friend Emmie has had to move back to the city, so he's pretty lonely. His dad has increased the hours of battle training, determined that Finn won't let him down at the Completion Ceremony, so he spends every moment he's not at school picking up new bruises in the training room. And, though Finn doesn't realise it yet, there's one creature, in particular, hanging around who definitely intends to do Finn harm. Lots and lots and lots of slow, agonising harm. But despite all that the story's in no way gloomy: every shiver and gasp of horror or disgust is more than balanced by humour. For example, check out what happens when Finn sneezes in class in chapter one, accidentally unleashing his new-found power. Then there are all the people who could have become Legend Hunters if only a monster or two had had the good manners to choose their town as a portal for a change: the teeniest sniff of a battle has them near-hysterical with excitement. And, possibly best of all, there's Broonie the Hogboon, a fairly harmless little Legend (well, unless you happen to be an earthworm, aka lunch) who got stuck on the wrong side of the portal. He's one of those characters who expect absolutely everything to go wrong in the worst and most painful way possible – and he's almost always right.
Like all good books, it is perfectly possible to read this book before the preceding two: there are enough hints for the reader to follow the story. But it's such a good series, and the backstory adds so much to the characters and the overall plot, that it would definitely be better to read the books in order. Start with Darkmouth, then move on to Darkmouth: Worlds Explode. Then, when you've recovered from the non-stop deadly peril, human-munching hordes and general silliness, you can turn to this third part of the story. And of course, while you're waiting for book 4, you can try another series with a great blend of what's-that-under-the-bed terror and cheerful humour – with ghosts this time. Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud is quite brilliant, as are the sequels The Whispering Skull and The Hollow Boy. The titles say it all, don't they?
You can read more book reviews or buy Darkmouth: Chaos Descends by Shane Hegarty at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Darkmouth: Chaos Descends by Shane Hegarty at Amazon.com.
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