Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Luck Uglies

The Luck Uglies
Paul Durham
HarperCollins, 2014  382 pgs
Grades 5-8

Rye lives with her mother, toddler sister, and cat, Shady, on the outskirts of Village Drowning.  She follows the strange house rules her mother has drummed into her and always wears the beaded choker around her neck, just like her other family members.  The evil and vicious Bog Noblins, said to have been completely eliminated years ago, have resurfaced.  Only the Luck Uglies can get rig of Bog Noblins, but the Luck Uglies have been run out the village years ago for their erractic and destructive behavior.  Selfish Earl Longchance claims he can protect the village, but is only looking after himself and his pocketbook.  A stranger appears in town and Rye befriends him.  Known only as "Harmless", he reveals to Rye secrets concerning the Luck Uglies, Bog Noblins, and her own past, of which her mother is very closed lipped.  Rye is eventually kidnapped by the Earl as a way to trap Harmless and she must figure out a way to escape in order to prevent the Bog Noblins from desecrating the village.  The situation comes to a head when the Bog Noblins attack the village and Earl Longchance is willing to save only himself.  It is up to Rye, her two friends, Quinn and Folly, along with Harmless and Shady (their true identities revealed at last), to save the village, their families and their whole way of life.

This summery barely does The Luck Uglies justice.  So much goes on in this book, it is nearly impossible to condense it.  Filled with magic and legend, Durham offers fresh mythological creatures (Luck Uglies/Bog Noblins) and has them living in a believable medieval/fairy tale setting.  Rye is a spunky and brave heroine who will both inspire and relate to readers.  Her friends are loyal and also fully developed characters, as are her family members.  The story is classic good verses evil with a steamrolling plot and plenty of action and surprises.  The true identities of Harmless and Shady will be fun reveals to the reader and the book has unpredictable twists.  The Luck Uglies was a bit long for me and I had a hard time keeping characters straight, therefor I would recommend it to readers who like to bite into a complex and challenging fantasy.  There is a glossary of terms and creatures that Durham created, but I didn't discover it until I was finished reading the book.  Terms and creatures are well enough understood from context clues.  A map is also included, of which I also found no use for.  Not for everyone, this book is a great choice for smart kids who like to fall into a great read in a fully developed mythological world.  The Luck Uglies ends as a stand alone book, but could leave room for further adventures if it proves popular.

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