Wit, world-building and wow! – ‘The Luck Uglies’

TheLuckUglies.pngThe cover of this book drew my eye. A girl, a gargoyle, a rooftop race. I grabbed it for my library bag. So glad I did!!

What a ripper of a yarn!

I really enjoyed ‘The Luck Uglies’ by Paul Durham. It’s a fab piece of middle-grade fantasy, with a crafty and strong female lead.

I often read books to figure out what they did to become popular, win awards or fans. That doesn’t always mean they connect with me. But sometimes, like now, I don’t just read – I LOVE. I get absorbed. I chuckle. I smile.

Seriously, this has to be one of the best first sentences I’ve read in a while:

Rye and her two friends had never intended to steal the banned book from The Angry Poet – they’d just hoped to read it.

So, without further ado, what was fabularytastic?

  • The narration and humour
  • The world-building
  • The House Rules

It’s hard to just pick three, but these encompass why I enjoyed the book so much.

Dry and witty narration

You don’t get everything on a platter here. If the front cover pulled me in, and the first line got me anticipating awesome, the thing that really sucked me into the book was the introduction of Rye’s mother.

Not that it’s much of a spoiler, but skip this if you want to experience the introduction the way it’s meant to be… At the start of Chapter 2 we meet Mrs O’Chanter:

Mrs O’Chanter suspected that Rye must have swallowed a horseshoe as a baby – she would have been a cripple ten times over if not for her otherworldly luck.

(p. 19)

She seems like an awesome woman, we learn that Rye works for her, and then, at the very end of the Chapter we finally learn she’s her mother:

Even after all these years, it seemed her mother could still surprise her.

(p. 29)

I love this. I love the quirk and the fact I have to allow myself to be lead on the story as the author wishes me to be.

This book isn’t taking itself too seriously, but it is seriously good


Dread Captain’s Way, Village Drowning and Bog Noblins – fab world-building

There are two major components to the world-building in ‘The Luck Uglies’. Just like the narration, the world is imbued with humour and quirk. The names, the town’s history, the fantastical creatures, the necklaces of feet.

The world has also been well-thought-through and perfectly constructed. It is rock solid and vibrant.

Without any boring pages of description or info-dumps, Durham expertly built a village in my mind. If I turned up there tomorrow, I’d recognise it, and know how to get to the Dead Fish Inn or find a hidden entrance to the Spoke. And I’d know which way to run if I smelt the bog and saw orange hair.

As in, away.


Puzzles of awesome – the House Rules

I love love love to have puzzles to solve in a book. So I loved it when the slowly revealed House Rules came to the fore in this book, and Rye and I had to figure out what to do to save the day, her family and an entire village.

The puzzle of Harmless is another thing that wasn’t just stated, we had to figure it out and wait for it to be confirmed.

Who is the poisoner? Who can Rye trust? Are the Luck Uglies good or bad? Or a bit of both?


The verdict?

I totally loved this book. It’s great older middle-grade, I think it would appeal to YA as well. It’s clever, funny, meaningful, teaches empathy and there are a whole heap of warm and wonderful relationships between Rye, her family and her friends.

I highly recommend it!

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