When I first saw the cover and description for The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham, I knew it was a book I had to read. It is a great MG Fantasy that combines folklore, ruffians, and adventure to tell a fun a story.
I read an ARC provided by publisher in exchange for a fair review.
Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has Rye O'Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned. Now Rye's only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can't be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning's maze of secrets, rules, and lies, she'll discover the truth behind the village's legends of outlaws and beasts...and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.
In many ways The Luck Uglies is a familiar story. It is typical of its genre in theme, setting, and characters. I enjoyed this aspect of it. I knew what I was getting and what to expect, and while what it does is nothing terribly new, it is done incredibly well. And most readers in the target audience will not have read as many fantasies of this type. They will thoroughly enjoy discovering this type of book through The Luck Uglies.
Rye is an adventurous girl who does not always make the best decisions. She is a child though and the often ridiculous things she does make perfect sense in her young mind. I could see a lot of my daughter in her while I was reading, and this will be a book I think she would love. Rye has two best friends, one boy one girl (of course) and a wonderful mother and little sister. This is a family story as much as it is anything else, and those are always great reads. Combining a good family story with action, adventure, and some monsters to terrorize a village always makes for a fun read.
The Bog Noblins are an eery monster, fierce and scary. They eat animals and people, viciously tearing them apart in the process. Durham does not shy away from the gory horror of this and there are some cringe worthy scenes that most kids are going to love. The Bog Noblins aren't the only evil lurking in Village Drowning. In fact, they aren't event the worst of the evil. There is also the dastardly Lord of the village, who is not hesitant to sacrifice his people to save his own life. Durham explores some interesting themes through this.
The Luck Uglies is the first in a trilogy, but I didn't know that when I read it. It is a complete and full story in and of itself and can be read as a stand alone.
This is an excellent and fun book, one that I will be delighted to hand to my students who I'm sure will love it.
I read an e-galley provided by the publisher, Harper Children's, via Edelweiss. The Luck Uglies will be available for purchase on April 9.