The Legends Begin (Darkmouth, book one)
By Shane Hegarty
Published 2015 by HarperCollins
Finn is the only son of the last remaining Legend Hunter. That means it's his dad's job to keep Legends (minotaurs and the like) from destroying the world we know. Soon, it will be Finn's job. Only one problem - he's terrible at it. Unfortunately, Finn doesn't have much time to improve - Darkmouth (where he lives) is the only place still plagued by Legends and they are about to plan a larger attack than ever before.
I downloaded this galley because it was a fantastical middle grade title - right in my wheelhouse. I didn't have a lot of expectations going in, which I think is sometimes best.
This is definitely a fun read - there are a lot of humorous interactions between the characters and I'm pretty sure I laughed out loud a number of times. My one quibble with the humor is that I think the relationship between Finn and his dad is supposed to be played for laughs, but it really just made me a bit sad. I wanted Finn to be able to talk to his parents about his wishes and it was disappointing that his dad seemed to be just another example of a not-great parent in a kid's book.
I think this book will definitely have fans - fantasy seems to be perennially popular with young people and this capitalizes on the current mythology craze by including some Legends kids will definitely have heard of. As I said, it's fun, and the chapters are short, so that keeps the action moving along quite nicely.
My own baggage as a reader made a lot of this pretty predictable - from the real story behind Emmie to the reveal of the bad guy to the prophecy bit to the ending. It's not a bad thing if readers can see some things coming (certainly, some readers find this kind of thing comforting), but perhaps I am just a bit worn out on this kind of speculative fiction. Additionally, the e-galley did not have the majority of the illustrations, which would have helped - some of the Legends described were very hard to picture. On a related note, I was a bit troubled that the setting of this wasn't clear until a few chapters in - Darkmouth is in Ireland and, though there are definite hints at a European setting, it's not made immediately clear. Something small, but it bothered me a bit. Finally, as this is merely book one of a series, there are many questions left to be answered in future volumes.
It was a fun and quick enough read that I'll probably read book two, but I don't feel overwhelmingly awed by this one.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.