Darkmouth: The Legends Begin: Darkmouth, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Darkmouth: The Legends Begin: Darkmouth, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Reluctant monster hunter steps up in clever, funny fantasy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Darkmouth: The Legends Begin includes fantastic beasts from myth and folklore.

Positive Messages

It is possible to face your worst fears and survive.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Finn doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps, but he does feel an obligation to train as a legend hunter.


Clashes between humans and monsters, but no one seems to be seriously injured.


Finn develops a crush on Emmie but isn't sure what to do about it.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shane Hegarty's Darkmouth: The Legends Begin is a good-natured comic fantasy novel about a modern-day teen monster hunter, reminiscent of the work of Terry Pratchett. The violence is limited to a lot of crashing and banging into obstacles, without any real harm coming to anyone. Some monsters are rendered harmless by a weapon called a "Dessicator." The language is squeaky-clean, no one drinks, smokes, or takes drugs, and Finn is barely aware that he has a crush on Emmie.

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What's the story?

From the start of DARKMOUTH: THE LEGENDS BEGIN, Finn isn't interested in becoming a legend hunter like his dad. As a soon-to-be protector of the town of Darkmouth, Finn must learn to defeat Minotaurs, Basilisks, and other dangerous magical and mythological creatures, but he has no talent for the task. As he continues his training, he learns secrets about his ancestors, develops a friendship with a new girl in town, and hears a prophecy that may spell his own doom.

Is it any good?

This tale of a reluctant teen monster hunter cleverly upends many of the clichés of middle-grade fantasy novels. In Darkmouth: The Legends Begin, Finn doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps and instead thinks he might be more interested in being a veterinarian. Author Shane Hegarty devises magical conflicts that force the boy to act, and the mix of humor and action is well balanced. The dialogue is funny, the characters quirky, and the overarching narrative engrossing. The volume ends in a cliffhanger, and most readers will be eager to read the next installments.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the mythology in Darkmouth: The Legends Begin. How is ancient mythology still relevant to modern readers?

  • Why do some parents want their children to follow their professional paths? What should kids do if they don't want the same job as their mother or father?

  • How is violence depicted in Darkmouth? How does the mix of humor and horror add to the novel's appeal?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love humor and mythology

Themes & Topics

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