Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro by J.L. Hickey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
At times, Joe Hickey's Secret Seekers Society invokes fond memories of Harry Potter. It genuinely is that good. The story concerns a brother and sister who enter a new world where strange creatures (Known as cryptids, such as Bigfoot and Nessie) exist. This emergence into this new world creates a lot of conflict, as the protagonists are not only just learning about this society their parents one belonged to, but there is also a strange creature on the loose--the eponymous Beast of Bladenboro--that the kids are on the move to stop. It makes for compelling fiction.
What I think I like most about this book is the pacing. All throughout, the story moves at a steady clip and it never really slows down (Even though the beginning takes a little while to warm up). I think this is mostly because the characters are likeable, especially Uncle Joe, so you genuinely care about them. There is also a great deal of intrigue as the author keeps his cards close to his chest about the society until the very end. This is both a positive and a negative, as the last few pages feel kind of bogged down with information. Still, I do prefer this over getting inundated with info too early on in the story. I don't know. I'm a little mixed on the matter.
One other thing that I thought could have used some work was the primary antagonist, which, being the beast, doesn't really have much to say other than growls and snarls. It's an interesting approach, making the bad guy a monster that doesn't really have anything to say, but it is fascinating to say the very least. We learn more about the characters and the organization because the main enemy doesn't talk back. Again, I'm a little mixed on how it was handled, but it works.
Overall, Joe Hickey's Secret Seekers Society is one of the few independent books that sustained my interest all-throughout. I highly recommend this story for any and all ages. There's a little bit of magic for everyone. Definitely pick it up.
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