What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Legend Thief, like Return to Exile, the first book in The Hunter Chronicles, is marketed by the publishers to kids ages 8-12. But 10 and up may be a better fit, thanks to the complexity of the series (so many characters to keep track of, for starters), some serious monster scares and action, and the addition of graveyard and corpse imagery -- worst of all, a character gets buried alive, screaming. To get an idea of the monster scare factor, check out the glossary of beasts in the back. If kids read it and don't get nightmares, they're probably ready for the series. (Also, the humorous tone lightens up the scares a bit.) A big plus: Sky and his teen monster hunter friends are admirable and heroic characters driven by loyalty and a desire to save their town.
What's the story?
After the monster prison on Pimiscule Manor is shut tight again, Sky's family moves in. It being the old house of his Uncle Phineas, famed Hunter of Legend, hunters from across the globe know just how to find him. On his 13th birthday, hundreds do just that, and not for the party. They're coming to kill him. Because he has the rare eye of legend on his hand, they fear he's the one the monster Bedlam will reach out to from his prison, take over his mind, and take all the hunters down in vengeance for their betrayal. So the chase is on, but it's on Sky's turf, where he's set oodles of traps and knows where to find the monsters that fight back (and how to provoke them -- yule log, anyone?). When a shaky truce is called with the hunters, they all know it won't last. Bedlam's army of monsters is on the way and will destroy the whole town of Exile in just days.
Is it any good?
THE LEGEND THIEF starts off with quite a bang. Sky bests hundreds of hunters and it's clear that a year in Exile fighting monsters, setting traps, and hanging out with his ubersmart weapon-making friends has made a real hunter out of him. It's a great, fast-paced opening, and the pace never lets up. That's good and bad. It will keep kids engaged, sure, but sometimes the storytelling suffers. Patten has many characters in play (and many aren't who they seem), so it can be really hard to take it all in at that pace. And it also allows him no chance for subtlety. For example, Sky's birthday present of a shield that repels fire is thrown at him right before he heads into a bowling alley filled with fiery monsters. Convenient.
Still, Legend Thief is a stronger book than Book 1, Return to Exile, and there's plenty here that will keep the series engaging for fantasy fans, especially as Sky and Errand's complex relationship develops.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what led you to The Hunter Chronicles. Will you read the next book? What do you like about this fantasy series?
Lots of the many characters are not who they seem or have lived for hundreds of years and have complex histories and countless secrets. Do you like to spend the book wondering who's really who? Or do you focus on the action and monsters instead?
What's your favorite monster so far?