Title: The Luck Uglies
Author: Paul Durham
Page Count/Review Word Count: 430
Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.
I’ve got to be honest, this is an excellent young adult novel with a strong mix of genres and a focus on fantasy, exactly the sort of book that I wish had been around when I was a kid. Durham’s fictional world is rich in detail, supported by a map at the front of the book, and so immersive that, at times, you feel as though you’re living in the village of Drowning with Rye, Lottie, Abby and Harmless, the leading characters who feel as real as your relatives.
The plot isn’t necessarily complicated, but it’s a bit difficult to go in to with a limited word count – loosely speaking, though, it follows the teenage Rye as she tries to save her village from being attacked by the monstrous Bog Noblins, uncovering the mysteries of the Luck Uglies along the way. The Luck Uglies are a band of ruthless mercenaries who drove the Noblins out of the village ten years earlier, only to have the deal that they made with the town’s ruler revoked. They’re not exactly the type of folk you want to mess with, but as the front cover of the book declares, “sometimes only the bad guys can save you.”
And let’s face it, the characters are bad-ass – Harmless in particular is awesome, although I won’t risk revealing too much about him in case it spoils the story-line. Let’s just say that he carries two swords strapped to his back that he can wield in both hands – that kind of tells you how harmless he really is, right? Rye also makes the perfect protagonist, and her friends are an interesting and eclectic bunch who are easily memorable thanks to their distinct personalities.
The only thing to let the book down is its occasional predictability – some of the plot-lines are easy to anticipate, but perhaps I only feel like that because I read so many books. It’s certainly less likely that a teenager would pick up on them, but it’s still not impossible to guess what’s about to happen. That said, I was happy with how everything turned out, and so even though I saw it coming, I wanted it to happen – it left me with a feeling of accomplishment, almost as though I’d helped to create the story to begin with. I suppose we all do, inside our imagination.