By Shane Hegarty
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 978 0 00 754561 2
You won't find Darkmouth on Googlemaps because no one in their right mind would ever want to go there. Any visitors to this mist-shrouded town arrive there purely by chance or accident, and leave as quickly as they can.
Darkmouth is the last of the unfortunate "Blighted Villages", places where the link between the normal world and the world of myth and legend still exists, and where hideous creatures from the mists of time might quite easily pop out of the fog to terrorise and perhaps make a meal of any unsuspecting, unprepared human.
Darkmouth is quite a nice place really, with a beach, picnic areas, cute shops and a harbour. It's just the Legendary Monsters that keep breaking through from the Infested Side that are the problem. But for generations, Darkmouth has been home to families of Legend Hunters, who protect the town - and the rest of the world - from Legend attacks.
Finn is the son of Darkmouth's current resident Legend Hunter and it is his destiny to take on this role when his father relinquishes the job. Finn is relieved to know that this is likely to be years away, because Dad enjoys the job and isn't likely to throw in the towel for some time yet.
But there is a problem. Finn has helped his dad with a few practice runs, and he is pretty bad at the job. His heart just isn't in it. His latest fight was against the hideous Minotaur, and that almost resulted in the Legend winning the day. Besides, Finn wants to be a vet.
Shane Hegarty's set-up to Darkmouth is both intriguing and persuasive. Hegarty, a former Arts Editor of The Irish Times newspaper, knows how to craft a tale and get readers wanting more. He piles on just the right amount of detail and has created a likeable, flawed hero.
Unfortunately for Finn, there is a dastardly plan afoot on the Infested Side. The leader of the Legends is plotting to invade Darkmouth with a monstrous army and wipe the place out. And then move on to the rest of the world. This kicks off a fast-paced story full of twists and turns that works wonderfully well if the reader just sits back and doesn't ask too many questions.
Ignore the unnecessary, ugly illustrations and lurid front cover: Darkmouth is an entertaining tongue-in-cheek fantasy that will delight pre and early teens, and also provide older readers with much to enjoy.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com