Darkmouth by Shane Hegarty

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WARNINGS: Neutral and somewhat more towards negative. May contain spoilers. I read this book in a translation, so some terminology may not correspond to the original.

I wanted to love Darkmouth. I wanted to love the characters, be engaged in the story and fall in love with a new series. I wanted it to be a Big Thing for me. I really did.

I wanted too much.

Granted, it is not a bad book by any means. Overall Darkmouth is enjoyable, has a somewhat original idea and the characters can be very charming in their own way if you’re one to ignore certain things and not nitpick.

That is basically the best things I can say about it. The other side of the coin is that the book just felt unfinished, as if the author had submitted the draft to their publisher by accident and it was now too late to take it back.

And now we arrive at my problems with this book: inconsistent character narrative and unclear motivations. Slightly messy point of view narrative. Also the fact that Finn somehow suddenly accepts being a Legend Hunter.

Let me elaborate: it is stated very clearly throughout the book that Finn doesn’t even want to be a Legend Hunter, that he instead wishes to be a veterinarian, and wonders if maybe he can talk to the Legends instead of just Hunting them. And somehow, that went out the window without any clear explanation in the second half. The only time I saw Finn display any kind of concern for a Legend, or even a semblance of sympathy, was in scenes with Broonie, and even then I got the feeling that Finn was more annoyed than sympathetic. It isn’t Finn’s fault, I just felt as if his feelings were not properly conveyed by the narrative. One may argue that he decided to be a Hunter because of his father, but we never get a good segue into that. The time frame presented is simply not enough for Finn to change his deepest desires so much.

Which brings me to my other big issue with the book: unclear point of view narrative. Look. There is a neutral third person point of view and an involved one. Darkmouth clearly tried to go for the latter, and failed. Many times I was confused as to Finn’s thoughts and motives for his actions, as they were not properly explained or conveyed – not even subtly. And because the narration is unreliable, that means you don’t get a clear picture of any of the other characters. The only person I somehow got a better idea of was Emmie. Finn’s father, from start to finish, was a complete mystery to me, although he is mentioned on almost every page. Even Finn himself states that his father is odd, but what I mean is that he wasn’t a confusing person, but a confusing character, which are two very different things. It was extremely hard to tell what kind of person he was even in Finn’s eyes.

Another problem I have is the way the relationship between them is handled; I understand that Finn himself cannot stand up to his father easily, but the narrative itself forgives his father’s actions, which to me is quite frankly atrocious. Nowhere in the book did anyone say Hey, maybe your dad shouldn’t act that way towards you. There is a scene or two including Finn’s mother trying to defend him, but those get glossed over so much that they’re hard to really take seriously. Somehow things turn out okay and Finn says he wants to take his father’s place despite the treatment he had received before. That was not okay.

The scenes I did like were the reveal about Finn’s grandfather, and basically almost every scene involving a villain. Mr Glad was a nice reveal as well, and even if somewhat cliche, I understood his motivations much better than Finn’s – which says a lot about the way Finn is written.

Which is just sad.

CONCLUSION: messy character narrative, mediocre but not without charm. I won’t continue the series for now.

WOULD I RECOMMEND: It depends. If you’re an avid book reader and you nitpick like me, I would recommend to pick it up from a library if you’re curious, but don’t expect more than a pleasant few day read. I’m not sure if I would recommend it to kids, as I feel even kids deserve wholesome characters and narrative. But, if you are very curious, pick it up from a library, as it’s not a re-read for sure.

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