‘Knights of the Borrowed Dark’ by Dave Rudden

This isn’t the best of books. I’m not sure why. I look forward to reading in the car on the way home from school, but I wasn’t when I got back in the car while I was reading this. I think it could be written better. This is Irish writer Dave Rudden’s debut book (it says so on the cover). Perhaps this is why. Hopefully his next book will be better. It’s a good idea for a book and has a storyline I’d usually like; I also like the characters because they all have unique personalities, so there’s plenty of potential here.

The book is about 13 year old Denizen Hardwick who has been in an orphanage for 11 years (like most orphanages in books, it’s nasty). He has been reading fantasy books for years wishing they were about him.

It turns out he has family and this family does have powers. He is collected from the orphanage by a man named Grey who has these powers. Grey explains what has been going on. It turns out Denizen has an aunt who lives with other people at a place called Seraphim Row (in Dublin, Ireland!). His Aunt wants to see him and has sent, him, Grey, to pick him up. Denizen learns he has powers, but also how these powers comes with a price. It causes anyone with the power to turn to iron, starting with their hands.

On the journey to meet his aunt, he’s attacked by a monster. Denizen finds himself in a fantasy world where he has to join the Knights of Borrowed Dark – his aunt is their leader – in a war with The Tenebrous. These are the monsters he has to fight. Their leader is called the Endless King. Denizen quickly has to learn to use his powers.

Weird things start happening at the orphanage, The Clockwork Three, monsters you should only see in nightmares, have taken over. They are keeping the daughter of the Forever King hostage and he is angry. Denizen wants to stop this and he probably can, but he’ll need help. Even then, it’s going to be hard.

I think Dave Rudden is onto something here. He has all the ingredients. He’s just not putting it together like Eoin Colfer or other kids’ fantasy writers do. I just didn’t get pulled into the book. I didn’t really believe some of it (even though it’s all fantasy!) and there are bits that are hard to follow and not explained. The book is worth reading for the twist at the end. I am sure the next book will be better.

Review by Finn Buck aged 12.



‘Darkmouth’ by Shane Hegarty

This is quite a good book. I’d definitely recommend it. In my opinion, the story is quite predictable, but it is still worth reading. I’ve read many good kids’ fantasy books and I am happy to add this one to my list. I love the way all these Irish authors are coming out with these incredible books, take Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy or Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – where are they getting the ideas? I hope the ideas keep coming! Also, the illustrations are incredibly good, like ‘never seen before’ good. The book is about 12 year old Finn (same age as me!) who lives in a town called Darkmouth in Ireland (I think). It’s the last blighted village where monsters (called Legends) appear out of gateways at times from a different dimension. The Legends are horrible creatures who want to live in Finn’s world where the universe is a bit less scary than their own. One family has the job of taking them down and that’s Finn’s family – they are known as Legend Hunters. Finn is a Legend Hunter-in-training. The thing is, Finn loves animals and doesn’t have the skill of a Legend Hunter, but he still really tries to hunt. Bottom line is he’d rather be a vet. Another thing, Finn is the son of Hugo the Great, one of the best Legend Hunters, so a lot is expected Finn. At school, Finn makes friends with the new girl, Emmie, who is fascinated by Finn’s life and likes helping him. Then, when Mr Glad, a friend of Hugo’s invades Darkmouth with an army of Legends, Finn and Emmie need to save Darkmouth. Read the book to find out what happens next. Shane Hegarty has one hell of an imagination. The names of these Legends, like Hogboons or Fomorians (all true horrors!), must have take some though to come up with. I have read the three other books in the series and they each build on Hegarty’s fantasy world. This book is funny in places, I like that. The books could just do with a few more unexpected twists and turns.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck


‘Artemis Fowl’ by Eoin Colfer

This is a fast-turning twisty kind of a book; it mashes two different realities together to create something epic. Eoin Colfer’s storyline in this book and in every other book in the series is fantastic.  I’ve since tried other books he’s written,  but  they are pretty boring in comparison to Artemis Fowl. Reading this book, you can understand why it was so successful and why it’s now being made into a film. I recommend the book to the sort of person who likes fantasy and sci-fi.

Artemis Fowl is a 12 year old child genius whose family business is sort of like the Irish mafia. He has a bodyguard called Butler. His father has disappeared and so have some of the family’s wealth. Artemis is about to change this; he has found out how to do it. He has identified ‘The People”!

The People, known in this book as fairies, are four foot tall folk. They all carry a book (‘The Book’) with them which holds all their magical secrets. If a fairy breaks any of the rules in The Book they lose their magic forever. Artemis blackmails a drunken fairy into giving him their book. He photographs every page and translates ‘Gnommish’, the fairy language.

He finds out that the gold in the fairies’ stories is actually a ransom fund for kidnapped fairies (as you do … !). The only way to get the gold is to kidnap a fairy. Artemis gets more than he bargained for when he kidnaps fairy police officer Holly Short by subduing her powers. Holly’s boss Julius Root launches a rescue mission, then Holly gets her powers back, A dwarf called Mulch Diggums is sent to see where Artemis is getting all his information.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, some fairies think stopping time and setting a troll loose in Artemis’ house is a great idea. As you might have realised by now, Artemis’ plan has gone absolutely mad. Butler, his bodyguard, almost dies. But all ends well for Artemis’ plan and he wins according to fairy rules and gets to keep the gold.

This probably sounds a bit crazy and involved (and yes, there is a lot going on!). All I can tell you is that it works. All these new characters, bizarre ideas and the nutty storyline all makes sense when you are reading the book. I can’t wait to see the movie version. It’ll be hard to make it because this is one book where you need to use your imagination.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck


‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ by Derek Landy

This is a brilliant, action-packed, fantasy book. Derek Landy pulls you in and traps you in this book’s claws. I recommend it to kids who like magic, action and danger, as this book is full of these. The book has great characters and it is even quite funny for what is. Well, the story is about a 12 year old girl called Stephanie Edgly. She is a bit bored with her life, then her Uncle Gordon dies. She inherits his big house and everything in it. But an old friend of Gordon’s turns up at the funeral – his name is Skulduggery Pleasant. He saves her life while she’s home alone at her uncle’s house and somebody (a mystery man!) tries to kill her. She finds out Skulduggery is a skeleton and that there is a whole world of magic out there. Soon she is tied up in that world. There people have to take a name to stop other people from controlling them, so Stephanie becomes Valkyrie Cain. Here’s the plot. A man, Nefarian Serpine, has taken the Sceptre of the Ancients, which has extraordinary power – it can kill gods (the Faceless Ones), making him almost unstoppable. Valkyrie and Skulduggery are the only ones who can stop him from controlling the world (with a little help from friends in small places). They also want to solve her Uncle’s murder. I don’t want to spoil the rest of it for you. This is the first in a series of books (there are ten at the moment). I recommend them all; I’d read them again!

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck


‘Take Back the Skies’ by Lucy Saxon

This is a great book. It’s choc full of  rebellion and adventure. I highly recommend it to science fiction nuts. It is a fantasy book about a world amusingly called Tellus (Tell us!). It brings Steampunk, modern and weird technology together – I find this really awesome because it makes you use your imagination to picture how everything would look. It’s about a 14 year old girl who hates her life of wealth and her arranged marriage. She decides to run away. She stows away on a ship called the Stormdancer, but the crew find her and think she is a boy because of her short cut hair. She goes along with this. But they find out she’s a girl and then they have to regain their trust in her. She proves herself to them and becomes their friend. They find out the Government is making cyborgs out of children (half child / half machine) and they look hideous. So the group have to stop the Government from doing this or the whole of Tellus will be thrown into war.  Read the book to find out if they can find and stop a flying ship full of children who are being experimented on. This book has somne gruesome bits so it might not suit younder kids. I’m 12 and I was ok with it.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.


‘The Alchemyst’ by Michael Scott

The big title for this book is ‘The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel’.

This is probably one of my favourite books of all time. I read it fast! I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is extremely well written and explained. I think anyone can love this explosive read, because I really did and I hope you can. The book is about Sophie and Josh Newman, two fifteen year old twins who are found by, the 600 year old immortal, Nicolas Flamel (yes, he is in talked about in Harry Potter!). The twins also have mythical powers, which means they are the supposed twins of destiny in the story. The are tasked with stopping the rising evil before it can destroy the world. This is, as I said, an explosive read.

Review by Finn Buck, aged 12




‘Ravens Gate’ by Anthony Horowitz

In my opinion, this is a fantastic book and I would highly recommend it to ages 10 to 14. Its a page-turning epic of a book for me because I love fantasy and magic stories and this is one of them. I think you’ll love it. It is written very well and I think Anthony Horowitz is one of the best authors of our generation. The story is about 14 year old Matt Freeman whose parents died 6 years ago. He’s left living with his nasty aunt and now he’s getting involved with petty crime like shoplifting with his mate Kelvin. But one day, they are caught burgling a warehouse. Then he gets sent off to a foster home in the country where there’s something wrong with the village. Then he finds out about the Old Ones and who he is. This book was definitely better than I thought.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck