Hi, all! Day 21 of Blogmas is another book review!
Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro follows the young protagonists Hunter Glenn, and Elly Ann through an adventure ripe with adversity, paranormal monsters, secret societies, and most haunting of all, a life without their parents.
The book follows both, the sibling’s emotional struggle from their parent’s sudden loss, as well as their physical journey into a new and strange “home”, an ancient and creepy mansion known only as the Belmonte Estate.
It is here where they first learn of their new guardian, an eccentric old man named Professor Clandestine and the rest of the mansion’s caretakers. Tossed into their bedroom, and locked away under the pretense of “safety concerns” it does not take long for the children to hatch an escape plan.
Follow the children as they slowly unravel the secrets of their parent’s true identities, the origin of the strange Mansion, and their inheritance into an ancient secret society of monster hunters known as Seekers.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Thank you to Black Rose Writing for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is such an interesting middle grade series! I love diving into middle grade books because I think they feel lighter somehow (even though there was some pretty dark stuff going on in this novel). I think the lack of teen angst and drama is what makes middle grade so much fun for me.
First of all, I love the paranormal and mystical aspect to this. Magical realism isn’t something I’ve dabbled in too much, but this made me more excited to further explore the genre. We come into the story after Hunter and Elly’s parents have died and they are being transported to the home of their godfather. The place is not what they expect, and they quickly learn that what what their idea of “real vs. fake” had previously been was soon about to change.
Since this is the first installment, readers really only get to know most of the characters on a surface basis. We learn more about the MCs (Hunter and Elly) the most, of course. Hunter was an incredibly selfish main character, but he is a thirteen year old boy, so I’m not really sure why I expected anything different. Elly seems to be very sweet and eager to please. Some of the other characters, like Margot and Joe, were given a bit more in depth characterization, but a lot of the characters were on the sidelines for now. In a series, this doesn’t feel like nearly as big of a deal as it would in a stand alone, because there is plenty of time to learn more about everyone else as the story progresses through the rest of the books.
I thought it was really cool how much research the author must’ve put into this story to make it all come together. Imagine my surprise when I look up a few of the mystical creatures, thinking the entire time that they were invented entirely from J.L. Hickey’s mind, and find out that all of the “monsters” are actually from real folklore and myths! In fact, the Beast of Bladenboro is from North Carolina, just over 2 hours away from where I live. I’m a bit spooked, honestly. All of the work that the author clearly put into researching and properly representing each monster made the story all the more believable, and it really pulls you in. Although the kids were immediately spooked upon entering the manor for the first time, I would love to visit a place like this. Where can I sign up??
Overall, it’s a very good, quick read that I think will transition very nicely into the next installment. Middle grade magical realism is truly where it’s at.