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Monday, June 3, 2013

RBTL Presents: The Secret Seeker Society and the Beast of Bladenboro by J.L. Hickey

Title: The Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro
Author: J. L. Hickey
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: Dec 31 2012
Edition/Formats Available In: Ebook
Synopsis:
Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro follows the young protagonists Hunter Glenn, and Eliza Lynn through an adventure ripe with adversity, paranormal monsters, secret societies, and most haunting of all, a life without their parents.
It all happened one fall afternoon when they learned that their parent’s plane had gone down overseas, never to be seen again.
The book follows the siblings as they are dropped off at their new guardian’s home, an ancient and creepy mansion known only as the Belmonte Estate. Here they unravel the secrets of their parent’s true identities, the origin of the mysterious Mansion, and their inheritance into an ancient secret society of monster hunters known as Seekers

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About the Author
J.L. was born in Saginaw, Michigan where he has a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing through Saginaw Valley State University. He has written and is currently self publishing two novels, the first entitled The Deity Chronicles: Origins was released in 2008.
His recent release, The Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro was released 12/31/12 and has garnered a decent amount of momentum in its initial release.
You can follow J.L. Hickey's works at www.secretseekerssociety.com
He also dabbles in literary short fiction, and poetry.
When J.L. is not writing, he heads up a local paranormal investigation group in his home town.

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Review: This is a middle grade novel, a first in a series, where a pair of orphans are whisked to a spooky mansion out in the country to be raised by their godfather, a man they have never met. Angry, grieving, and confused, Hunter and Elly are awed by what is inside the mansion, but locked into their room "for their own safety." Hunter is understandably upset until he hears wild growling their first night there. And so the children's adventure begins! From the stern Patty to the compassionate Margot to the mysterious professor to their new, giant doglike pet, the children are immersed into a land of reality filled with fairy-tale creatures.

I thought this book was cute, but a bit disjointed in writing. There are several instances where the wrong word is used (irrupted instead of erupted, ravenous instead of enraged, homonym misuse (your vs you're)etc.), the writing/conversations seem a bit choppy, sections just aren't fleshed out enough, etc.

Those minor instances aside, this book has the potential to be a favorite (series) for the middle grade child who loves the idea of mythological creatures, adventures, and perhaps likes to entertain the idea of hidden agendas for anthropologists and archaeologists. The story line is quite enjoyable and the beginnings of bonding friendships is there. I wish there had been more friendship building, relationship building, etc., perhaps more exposure on the sliminess of one character in particular. I want to learn more about the characters NOW and I cannot wait to see how the children's education will develop in future novels! (And I totally want a Cusith)

EXCERPT
"“I’d like you to meet Trayer. He’s our newest addition to the Belmonte family, and we all thought it might be nice if you kids could help us watch over him,” Margot said.
“He’s huge!” Elly laughed, giving the tremendous dog a huge bear hug. “He’s a puppy?”
“Only eight weeks old,” Margot responded.
“Is he mean?” Hunter asked, a bit more hesitant. He had always wanted a dog, but he had envisioned something a bit more lap friendly—a Chihuahua perhaps.
“Not at all, he’s just a pup, and he loves attention.”
“What kind of dog is he?” Hunter asked, now cautiously petting the large animal’s head.
“Well, it’s a rare breed…” Margot paused for a minute, thinking of how to answer the question. “I’m certain you’ve never heard of it before. It’s actually from Scotland, and sadly, the breed is almost extinct.”
“Oh no… that’s so sad,” Elly said, frowning.
“Well, yes… it’s quite sad actually,” Margot answered. “We’re fairly sure he’s the last one alive in the entire world… and with no female to mate with, well…”
“We promise to take good care of him!” Elly smiled.
“It’s much bigger than the Great Dane our neighbor had,” Hunter said, a bit more worried about what taking care of such a large dog actually entailed.
“Well, Trayer’s breed is called a Cusith. It’s an enormous canine breed, and when he’s an adult, he’ll be the size of a large calf.”
“Seriously?” Hunter’s eyes widened with concern.
“Hey, I read about the Cusith in one of those monster books.” Elly’s eyebrows rose. “The book said they were mean, like a dog version of a Grim Reaper…”
“Yes. Unfortunately, many books describe them as such. I assure you they are wrong.”
“What do you mean ‘Grim Reaper’?” Hunter pulled his hand slowly away from the pup, who quickly put his head down in a whimper.
“Well, you read the legend of the Cusith—I applaud you for reading those books by the way,” Margot winked at Elly. “However, the legend and the truth are vastly different. See, people fear what they don’t know, and those legends are based on fear. Even in the wild, the Cusith were very isolated and spent most of their time in hiding. It was extremely rare for anyone to ever set eyes on one, but every once in a great while, someone would. They’d stumble unknowingly into the presence of a large dog-like animal, which can look terrifying if you didn’t know any better. So the legend was born out of fear and a lack of understanding. Truth be told, they are extremely smart and loyal animals. He’ll make a perfect friend for you both.