Thursday, April 30, 2015

The book of beasts by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman

The book of beasts is the final book in the Hollow Earth trilogy and is the sequel to Hollow Earth and Bone quill so this review has some ***SPOILERS***.  If you prefer to read books in a series without ***SPOILERS*** then stop reading now and check out Hollow Earth and Bone quill first.

Em and Matt have never been separated before for any real length of time - but now centuries lie between them.  Worse still, they don't know if the other is still alive because the distance between them has severed the connection they share.  In the Middle Ages Matt and Jeannie are stranded on Auchinmurn Isle, and they are not alone - they share this time with friend and foe.  Solon and Carik are no strangers to Animare and Guardians in their own time, but Matt and his wild and impulsive ways push their boundaries and their trust.  Matt's father Malcolm is the greatest foe, determined to release the beats of Hollow Earth - and he has powers he shouldn't have.

In the present Em is dealing with her own problems, and overprotective mother and grandfather and an enemy that will stop at nothing to get what she wants.  Em wants to get back to the Middle Ages to rescue Matt and Jeannie, but she has to work in secret because no one wants to loose her as well, but secrets can be dangerous.  While Em works in secret she has no idea that her plans will put her squarely in the path of her grandmother - a grandmother she never knew existed, but has always that Em and Matt are part of her own plans for the future.  The twins are on a collision course with destiny, and if they fail the whole world will fall.

The Hollow Earth trilogy has been an interesting and engaging read, although this final book in the trilogy has left me feeling a little disappointed.  To be fair, part of that sense of disappointment no doubt comes from the fact that it has been two years since I read the last book in the series and my mind was scrabbling to reconnect witch characters and events.  The structure of the novel also took some getting used to, because it switches back and forth between time periods in a way that feels a little "clunky", like at times the Barrowman's were trying to make the gaps fit the chapters rather than putting gaps where they were a "best fit".  

The imagination and world building that has gone into the Hollow Earth trilogy is truly impressive - especially because it was so original yet felt so real and compelling because of the connection to a place and time that feels authentic.  You get a sense reading the stories that it is very "real", it is very easy to suspend belief and get caught up in the story and the characters.  In some ways it feels like the series was a little shaky on the dismount, at times I was distracted and found it hard to focus on the story because it felt like time was moving wrong and that things weren't as clear as they could have been - but that could have been part of the challenges of having a connected story happening in two different periods of time.

The Barrowman siblings are talented and have a flair for creating believable worlds and characters, and I sincerely hope that there are more books to come.  Writing books for older children can be challenging, because although the readers are ready for more challenging writing they are often not emotionally ready for the challenges of reading teen books - John and Carole E. Barrowman have created a challenging and engaging series that will provide many enjoyable hours of reading for children aged 9 years and up.  I would recommend reading this series as a marathon read if you can get your hands on the whole series because you will enjoy it more if you don't have to wait for the next book in the series (this is the voice of experience speaking!).  

If you like this book then try:
  • Hollow Earth by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman
  • Stone heart by Charlie Fletcher
  • Finding the fox by Ali Sparkes
  • Under the mountain by Maurice Gee
  • The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
  • Lionboy by Zizou Corder
  • Northwood by Brian Falkner
  • The Halfmen of O by Maurice Gee
  • Museum of thieves by Lian Tanner
  • Lee Raven, boy thief by Zizou Corder
  • The roar by Emma Clayton

Reviewed by Brilla

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