In Paul Durham’s fantasy adventure, THE LUCK UGLIES, the Village of Drowning is surrounded by the terrible monsters. The main character, Rye O’Chanter, has been raised to follow the rules of the house in order to remain safe from such terrors. The trouble is that Rye is a curious tween in search of excitement and her mom cannot keep her eye on her all the time.
While the monsters, the Bog Noblins, are supposedly gone, tales of their horribleness live on. On a night of the new moon, Rye sneaks out for some fun, but it leads her to a run-in with a bog noblin named Leatherleaf and almost loses her life. Rye believes a mysterious man named Harmless is the one who saved her. The threat of a Bog Noblin being spotted outside of town raises alarm amongst the towns folk and even though soldiers walk the streets, the people hold out for the return of the masked guardians, the Luck Uglies, who had saved them in the past. Holding out for their return from exile, courtesy of the Earl of Longchance, the corrupt ruler of Drowning.
Durham’s blend of adventure, suspense and fantasy is an enjoyable, fast-paced read. Even though I knew the Luck Uglies would return and save the day, the story keeps me on the edge of my seat until the end. The world of Drowning was created with vivid details that made it play out like it was a place I had been.
Rye is a likable character who’s evolution as the book progresses is quite the wild ride. She is not quite the hero who will save the day, yet, but her courage and willingness to keep the Bog Noblins from destroying her village shows that the hero inside is about to burst out.
The ending is satisfying and leaves enough for the reader to want more. Luckily, this is part of a trilogy and Rye’s coming into her own is a story I can’t wait to read. I strongly recommend this story for the middle grade reader and those who love to read middle grade.