The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

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The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: The Luck Uglies are outlaws so wicked people won't even say their name. But when an even greater danger threatens Rye and all she loves, she has to accept that sometimes it takes a villain to save you from the monsters.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 430 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780007526901

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It's hard not to be clumsy when you have to wear the big old boots you father left behind when he disappeared years ago – even if you do stuff them with fresh straw every day. But that doesn't stop eleven-year-old Rye O'Chanter and her two friends from getting up to all manner of mischief, from 'borrowing' a forbidden text from the Angry Poet to sneaking out at night to see the Black Moon festivities.

Village Drowning is a place of twisted streets and abandoned cemeteries, full of mysteries and whispered tales of dangers past. The wall that should protect the inhabitants from the monsters that dwell in the forest Beyond the Shale has fallen into disrepair, and the self-centred, greedy Honorable Earl Longchance and his spiteful, scheming daughter Malydia are only concerned with the profits (oh, sorry, please call them taxes) they can extract from the villagers. But despite the ever-increasing list of new rules and laws and the obnoxious Constable Boil who enforces them, Rye and the other villagers muddle along well enough. Until, that is, a Bog Noblin begins to terrorise the town. This bloodthirsty monster has grey leathery skin and thick hair, round its neck it wears pairs of human feet – and Rye has accidentally attracted its attention . . .

Books for older readers often still divide along gender lines, but the world of fantasy for confident middle grade readers has no such restrictions. Rye is determined and intrepid (or stubborn, reckless and foolhardy, if you prefer her mother's version) and there's no school or health and safety advice to stop her roaming the rooftops and other hidden, forgotten places in the village. In fact, Longchance has decreed girls may neither read nor write, so once her chores are done, Rye is free to explore. She's at that delightful stage when boys are just friends, and the fact that she blushes and feels awkward around Folly's older brother just puzzles her. She's as curious as a cat, always happier in leggings than a skirt, and Paul Durham's beautifully constructed world gives her innumerable opportunities for both enjoyment and trouble. Who is the enigmatic stranger who saves her life? Did her mother really think Rye wouldn't find the secret workshop concealed behind a wall covered in Rye and Lottie's drawings? And why does the family have a set of House Rules which must never, ever be broken no matter what the provocation (needless to say, Rye wouldn't be a heroine worthy of the name unless she broke most, if not all of them)? This rip-roaring, non-stop adventure is a thick brick of a book which will keep readers enthralled for many hours. And the good news is that it's the first in a trilogy, so there's plenty more fun to look forward to.

Brave heroines, weird and wonderful worlds – there are plenty of books out there that fit this description. Two of the best are A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge, and Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. They're vivid and exciting, and there's the occasional scary moment to make sure you remain firmly on the edge of your seat.

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Buy The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham at


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