This is the third book in “An Awfully Beastly Business” series. I didn’t read the first two books, but received this copy through the Amazon Vine program. It was an okay book and is meant for a young audience. It would be fine to start with this book, the authors provided enough backstory that you don’t need to read the previous two books to figure out what is going on.
Ulf is a werewolf who works at the RSPCB (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Beasts). When the RSPCB receives a message from one of their spotters that only reads “HELP!” Dr. Fielding and the giant Orson take off to check it out. Ulf, not wanting to be left behind, stows away in the cargo area of the helicopter with his fairy friend Tiana. Ends up someone is abusing some trolls and it is up to the RSPCB to help those trolls out!
Keep in mind I am an adult reading this book. I actually read quite a few book meant for the age 8-12 set as well as young adult books. Somehow though the dialogue in this book came across as very childlike and dumbed down. The sentences are kept very short and simple, which resulted in the characters sounding kind of clipped and unnatural. The pace of the book is brisk. Ulf goes from one dangerous scene to the next, with not much time for scenic detail or internal character thoughts. All the characters act how you expect them to and events progress how you would expect them to; no surprises here.
There are a lot of interesting beasties presented. They are almost always talked about in passing, with not much time spent on learning more about any of them. Many of the things Ulf deals with are pretty stereotypical; there is a giant spider in the cave, the evil people are poachers with personalities you’ve seen in similar characters. There are also some very funny illustrations throughout the book which did add a lot to the story.
I personally thought that the story, characters, etc were okay but nothing too exciting. When I try to step back and look at this from a 8-12 year old point of view; I think I would have enjoyed all the crazy beasties and the action. Still there are better books out there in the 8-12 age range. For example Fablehaven targets this same age group and is a much better and more complicated story, as is Percy and the Olympians. This book is also extremely short I finished it in under an hour. The whole time I just got the feeling that this book was meant for children even younger than 8. The print is very big, the book very short, and the language and plot extremely simple.
In summary, this might be an okay quick read for younger children. Don’t expect something that will change your child’s life, this is a “just for fun” type of read. If you or your kid are really into this type of fantasy I strongly recommend Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. Fablehaven has a complex plot, with wonderful characters, and awesome beasties. I personally won’t read any more of this series, but I might keep it around for my son when he gets older to see what his take is on it.