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on 3 February 2013
On seeing the title I was a bit put off, sounded a bit strange, but I decided to give it a go. And I'm so glad I did. I now totally get the title!

As an adult I know all about fairy tales and legends, and part of me has always wanted to believe, just a little bit, that they may be true. This story helped in my quest for belief!

The author draws you into the story from the first few pages when you begin to feel sympathy for the 2 main characters - orphaned brother and sister Hunter and Elly. They don't have an easy start to their new lives but quickly gain allies.

This may be billed as YA fiction but it is my kind of story, and it shouldn't be overlooked due to a readers age. Give it a chance and I promise you will be as drawn in to the fantasy world as I was. Bring on the next one please!
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on 10 January 2014
**Gifted to me by the author in exchange for an honest review**

Hunter and Elly have lost their parents and they've been sent to live with their Godparent; a professor who they have never met. Their new home looks like a big abandoned castle and is set in the middle of a forest. They meet Ms. Ellingbee and Margot, and both ladies take the two kids under their wing.
Much to the kids dismay and disgust, they find out they are not allowed leave their room. They get bored quite quickly (as kids do) and come up with a plan to escape their room and explore their new home. This leads to all sorts of trouble and the story unravels into a tale any young adult would (should) want to read.

Joe Hickey has shaped two young characters that kids can relate with quite easily. He has successfully created two orphans whose emotions will tug at the heart strings. It's not hard to imagine yourself in their place. I do think this series, if it keeps going the way it has started, will and should end up being as popular as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. The story has all the popular elements that Y.A like.

What I liked: I liked that this was a book that both young adults and adults could enjoy: lets face it, most of us are just big kids on the inside anyway. I found it was action packed without being too fast paced.
I also liked that Mr. Hickey was able to successfully put the feelings of the two kids down on paper without ruining their characters. It can be easy to let depressing emotions take over, especially when a kid loses a parent, but Joe has managed to balance the emotions quite nicely so the characters don't become boring and tedious.

What I didn't like: That should actually be "who" I didn't like. I didn't like Sebastian. Every time I read about him I was hearing "Boo!! Hiss!! Boo!!" in my head.

Who would I recommend this to: I have a 13 year old son who doesn't actually like Harry Potter so I'm going to suggest this series to him as an alternative and see if he likes it as much as I did.
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on 30 March 2014
Hunter and Elly have just lost their parents, and are shipped off to live with the Godfather they've never met before, Professor Calenstine. Upon arrival to his dark and pretty creepy mansion, Belmonte Estate, they are greeted warmly by Margot, who also lives in the mansion and promptly locked into their new bedroom, for reasons unknown. Suspecting something is wrong, Hunter sneaks out to discover the mansion's secrets... and gets more than he bargained for!

This story is told in the third person, so we get a glimpse of life through nearly every character, however Hunter and Elly are the two main characters. They argue just like any other siblings do but forgive each other quickly because they only have each other. Hunter is very impulsive, whereas Elly is quieter and content to sit and read for hours on end. I have both these traits so I identified with both of them!

The mansion's mysteries were quite unique and I enjoyed reading about them. The book took a lot of twists and turns that I wasn't expecting, which was fun. I loved Trayer, the giant adorable puppy and Plato, the giant robot the most. I'm hoping we read more about them in future books. There was plenty of action, danger and suspense to keep me reading chapter after chapter too.

I did have a particular problem with this book and that was audience. With the characters being so young, and after referred to as the children, one would marked this as a middle grade, not a young adult novel. However, the language used is more advanced than middle grade, plus it's a long book. On top of that there's a few counts of swearing too. So it's not quite middle grade but somehow reads a bit too young for Young Adult. I'm just not sure.

The Beast of Bladenboro was a really fun, enjoyable read. I will very likely be reviewing the next book in the series soon, so look out for that!
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on 9 August 2014
I have to be honest, when I say that this book has been on my to-read list for a while. A friend of the author recommended it to me, and I kept meaning to buy it, you could have heard my squeal of delight when he messaged me offering an ARC for a review! And it's a real delight for me to be able to give him such excellent feedback on what is a stunning start to what I'm sure will become a very popular series.

The book begins with such a gripping start, you are literally hooked from the initial pages. The drama, the mystery, the intrigue, just the whole situation surrounding Hunter and Elly is brilliantly developed in a very short space of time, yet without skimping on any of the details. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this book hooks you in and grips your attention tight from the very beginning, and it holds it all the way to very end through the roller-coaster you ride.

I have to comment on the premise for this story as I am a self professed myth addict - simply put, it's fabulous! Hickey uses the blend of myths and legends to create an incredibly mysterious and shadowy background to the Belmonte Estate, but it's all so accurate and truthful it is just fabulous. The research is clearly there, and I have to give him credit for that as I felt like I learned more from reading the book. This mythical element feeds very well into the drama of the book, and adds an added level of depth to the proceedings.

The characters were fabulous, and you can most definitely empathise easily with the children. Hickey writes their curiosity and grief very well, with Hunter being a right little gem of a character you just can't help but love. They're typical kids and they pull you into their new little world with great panache and in a way that you just can't let them go. They pull you as a reader back to a childlike state, and you agree with the little bits of petulance and naughtiness they get up to because you want it to go their way. Cracking little bit of characterisation, and I'm looking forward to watching them develop over the next book.

In conclusion, this book was very gripping, incredibly interesting and well written. It's easy to read, difficult to put down and full of twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. One for adults and older children alike, audiences young and old would find pleasure in reading this series.

ARC provided in return for an honest review on Lily Loves Indie - http://lilylovesindie.co.uk/?p=504
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on 29 September 2013
I was give a copy of this book by the author for an honest review.
This was an hugely enjoyable read. We meet Hunter and Elly who are sent to live with their godparent who they have never met following the death of their parents. Arriving at a very strange place they soon find that nothing is normal. The book takes you on a fantastic journey with lots of twists and turns giant robots and monsters galore and a secret society of monster hunters. Along with their new friends they soon find themselves on their own adventure chasing the Beast of Bladenboro. Its a great read for any age. I am looking forward to continuing the story in the next book.
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on 18 April 2013
I enjoyed this book a couples of twists and turns kept me guessing until the end. A good entertaining read
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on 21 April 2013
I cannot express how much I lived this book. Mysteries, intrigue, romance, monsters, everything you could hope to find is in this book. I cannot wait to read the sequel. It was truly wonderful book, Harry Potter is nothing compared to this.
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