Hi, all, it’s Sher today with a book review for the blog tour of Beyond the Gloaming: Sebastian and the Hibernauts Book 1 by Brendan Murphy.
It is Easter, 1973 and twelve year old Sebastian Duffy has some serious self-esteem issues. He is beaten by his parents, bullied at school, steals from his friends and still mourning the death of his brother. To cap it all, strange things have begun happening around him and he is finding it hard to distinguish dreams from reality. After a nightmarish assault, he wakes in the Gloaming, a shadow world inhabited by ghosts. There to greet him is Porrig, a creature from Hibercadia, a magical realm crafted from Celtic dreams. Inhabited by Fir Bolg, Tuath and Milesians, it has been overthrown by brother gods from another dreamworld. One brother, Phobitor, is a tyrant and even the Tuath, who took to their underground sidhe millennia ago, are concerned. Sebastian discovers that he alone can save Hibercadia by finding an enchanted spear. Teaming up with the Hibernauts—a mercurial sorceress, an orphaned druidess, a taciturn warrior, a snuff-sniffing leprechaun and a lovelorn poet—he embarks on a fantastical quest, but can he succeed when he is yet to find his magical potential or even his courage, and half the realm is bent on his destruction?
Praise for Beyond the Gloaming
I cannot say just how much I have enjoyed this book; you are a very accomplished writer with a wonderfully rich imagination. Your use of the English language is amazing and your ability to create the many different speaking styles in the book and to maintain them is remarkable. You have an incredibly inventive mind and readers will come to love the many wonderful creations in this novel, it is jam-packed with the most wonderful and inventive characters; new, exciting and beautifully realised.
~The Oxford Editors
An imaginative epic…an intricate and fully realised fantasy world with a big cast of likeable characters that are charming, well drawn and endearing, with wonderfully apt names. The depth and breadth of your high-voltage imagination, and the richness of the world you create is very impressive.
~Sam Mills, author of Blackout, The Boys Who Saved the World, and The Quiddity of Will Self
Now for my review. As I just finished reading last night, I haven’t had much time to mull the story as a whole, so I’m starting with what I liked. I loved the ideas and the world, richly imagined. The Gloaming as a place was interesting enough, but Hibercadia was amazing in its intricate detail involving the mythology of multiple cultures. Both kids and adults will get an enjoyable education or reminders of old things near forgotten in recent history.
The plot and story structure worked well, at least, through the majority of the book. From the inciting incident involving bullying to point of no return, I felt Sebastian’s despair. He’s the classic underdog. As a middle grade, it seemed too dark for some tweens. For teens who can handle the first part, it gets better. Sebastian isn’t just a dreamer, his dreams are real. Once in the gloaming, readers should rejoice at Sebastian’s first taste of human kindness and love.
I especially liked the idea that appearance isn’t a good gauge of character. And oh, what characters! I found them both entertaining and deep, each with quirks and secrets, although I wished the females weren’t all so extreme. I found the universal point of view distracting in some places where I expected to stay in Sebastian’s head, but head hopping was a minor problem. For the most part, the author did a good job with descriptions and speech, so I didn’t have too much trouble keeping track of the myriad characters in Hibercadia. Each of them had a job and served to increase the tension of the predominant external conflict in the latter part of the book: who was the traitor? However, Sebastian understood too much about the adult characters’ behavior and motives for his age.
The biggest revelation was something I can’t say with out spoiling. Very nice. Let’s just say it was a magical touch. The biggest problem was that the story didn’t really end. One mystery resolved (or not, depending on whether it was a setup) but nothing happened to resolve Sebastian’s internal conflict: Would he live? And although I enjoy learning foreign terms in context, the last word was one Sebastian might not know himself, and no visual or other description followed. Throughout, I was wavering between 3 and 4 stars, and the partial ending settled me on 3. I liked but didn’t love Into the Gloaming. In 380 pages, I think a story should complete at least one story arc and maybe start another.
I would recommend Beyond the Gloaming to anyone who loves mythology and is okay with an unfinished story arc. Not for most teens under 13 due to the violence against Sebastian in the beginning, but older teens should love all the magic and intrigue. Same goes for adults. I was provided a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Brendan Murphy was raised in Sheffield, England, with dreams of becoming a writer, and has written every day since he was nine years old. After reading medicine in London and psychiatry in Manchester, he moved to Australia in 1999. He is an Associate Professor at Monash University and has written widely on youth mental health. His nonfiction work on the development of football in Victorian society, From Sheffield with Love, was published in 2007. He lives with his wife, Katrina, and their children, Sebastian and Violette, in a sprawling property built for the composer, Dorian Le Gallienne. They share their garden with a mob of kangaroos, a wombat, two possums, any number of creepy crawlies, and some very feisty kookaburras. In 2013, he was signed to Assent Publishing for a six-book deal. Beyond the Gloaming, the first Sebastian and the Hibernauts adventure, will be published by Assent imprint, Phantasm Books in 2014.
Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.