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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

"The Last Gargoyle" by Paul Durham (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)





FORMAT: The Last Gargoyle is the first book in a new children's series. The series has a mix of mystery, action, and mythological creatures. The novel stands at 288 pages and was published January 9, 2018 by Crown Books for Young Readers. 

ANALYSIS: Paul Durham quickly moved to the top of my list of favorite children's writers with his debut novel Luck Uglies. Immediately after reading the first book, I couldn't stop talking about it and recommending it to pretty much anyone who would listen to me. When I found out that 2018 promised a new series from him, I was super excited but a little apprehensive as my expectations were pretty high.

Part of my apprehension was because this series strayed from his original series which was traditional fantasy. The Last Gargoyle has a more historical, dark vibe with some mythology thrown in. Luckily, Paul Durham pulled this off nicely. There is a spooky vibe that carries throughout the novel, but Durham knows how to throw in witty one-liners and some warm 'feel good moments' every now and then to give readers a break from all the doom and gloom.

What really shines in The Last Gargoyle is the setting. It takes place in Boston, but not the Boston everyone is used to. There is this gothic, creepy vibe to this Boston. Readers familiar with the Boston area will definitely be able to picture and imagine the places in the novel, but they will probably see them in a whole new light.

Another element that jumps out is Durham's ability to really flesh out and develop the characters. Durham does an amazing job of creating some characters that have been around for centuries and giving them the ability to appeal to readers. They don't come across as know-it-all or stiff. In fact, there are a number of times where they are still learning and growing which readers don't always encounter in characters who have lived for so long.

The other main character, a young mortal child, in the novel is, at first, a bit harsh and not really likeable. However, as the story goes on and you learn more about what is going on with her, what happened to her, and what she is currently battling, she starts to grow on you. By the end of the story, I really wanted to learn more about her and what happens. I was pleasantly surprised that she grew on me.

I will say the 'big bad' villain is pretty creepy; probably one of the more creepier children's bad guys that I have read recently. Not only are the villain's actions creepy, but his entire description and look is downright frightening. It is this aspect of the novel that moves this story from younger middle grade to a little bit older middle grade. The spooky, creepy bad guy that pretty much preys on children while they sleep and sends things out into the night to capture them is something that the younger age range might not be ready for.

I will warn you though that while the book does wrap up a lot of things, there is still a lot to be explored in future books. It will be fun to see where the series goes from here and what other unique twists and turns Durham can bring to the children's fiction world.

Overall, I loved The Last Gargoyle. I felt it was fresh, unique and wasn't bloated like a lot of books try to be as they are competing to see who can make the biggest/fattest book. If you are looking for something that is an original story but not super long, then this is the book for you. I can't recommend this book enough and it is certain to be one of my top reads for 2018.

1 comments:

fee roberts said...

This sounds interesting. Thanks for the book recommendation!

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