Darkmouth by Shane Hegarty is a book that I read back in February. I’m trying to avoid putting review of books I haven’t read for a while in here because I know I’ll forget a lot of the story but I think I’m ok with this one. Hegarty was a journalist with the Irish Times and had published a non-fiction book prior to Darkmouth so while he couldn’t be branded as being completely new to writing, this is his debut fantasy fiction book.
The book is about a boy named Finn, twelve, who is the son of a legend hunter and will become one himself only he doesn’t want to. He would much rather become a vet and help sick animals. Legends are monsters who come from the Infested Side, a horrible place where all the monsters reside. It’s up to the legend hunters to stop them every time a portal opens but the strange thing is the only portals that are opening anymore are in the town of Darkmouth. And then one of the monsters gives Finn a doomed message. Can Finn overcome his fears and save Darkmouth from the legends?
Got all that? Good.
The book has garnered a lot of attention and for good reason. It’s very creative, fun and exciting. The action is fast paced and the world is compelling. Hegarty signed a four-book deal with HarperCollins so I’m guessing there are four books in the series (a regular Sherlock Holmes I am!).
This book is not without its faults or at least what I perceive to be faults. The first is with regards to the last hundred pages or so. It’s pure action. Good action no doubt but still pure action. I think it could have easily been trimmed down, possibly by half, as there wasn’t much of progression of plot. The second is from one of the characters motivations. Granted I’m sure we’ll find out about why they did what they did in the second book which is fine but Hegarty did try to provide a brief reason in the book when I don’t think it was needed.
That being said, I for one will definitely be buying the sequel. The book is filled with Minotaurs and Manticores and if there’s one thing I like it’s a good mythological creature. It is a very good work. I’m not sure if the comparisons that were being drawn to Colfer and Landy are justified at this moment in time but they could be in the future. His agent even said that it was like Harry Potter which is a high standard to set. Personally I don’t think it’s at that level but I could well be surprised in the future. Either way, it’s a very solid start to the series.
Age Range: 8-12
* I just read the opening page again and I have to say it sets a cracking tone and build up a great deal of intrigue. I’ll stick by my rating but that first page will definitely have you hooked!