Cover Image: The Secret of Glendunny: The Haunting

The Secret of Glendunny: The Haunting

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Member Reviews

Thank you, NetGalley, for an audio-ARC of The Secret of Glendunny: The Haunting by Kathryn Lasky.
A fast-paced fantasy story about a beaver colony that is sure to please fans of Erin Hunter. Well written with solid characterization makes this book an easy recommendation for readers looking for animal series.
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This was a voicegalley so I cannot rate the final audiobook narrator's abilities but I can say that the synthesized voice was entertaining to listen to and I hope the final product also uses a narrator with a UK accent (Scottish preferably). ;)

Although my daughter had almost every Kathryn Lasky book growing up this is the first book of Kathryn's that I have read. I love the idea that the animals can all talk to and understand each other. I also love that Kathryn doesn't hide the death of the animals from children, it helps kids when they see other people (real and fictional) dealing with the death of a loved one.

I am glad that this is going to be a duology, I am looking forward to reading the conclusion of this story.
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The Secret of Glendunny: The Haunting is an anthropomorphic fantasy adventure by Kathryn Lasky written for middle grade readers. Released 15th March 2022 by Harper Collins, it's 288 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. 

This is an engaging fast paced character driven fantasy where almost all the characters are animals. There are some human characters (they're mostly scientists looking for the elusive thought-to-be-extinct beavers in the British Isles), but they're sort of intentionally two dimensional and vaguely threatening. The story is told from alternating points of view of the different characters. The author is skilled enough that it's always clear who's speaking and I didn't find myself bogging down in the story or having to flip back and forth to clarify.

The story includes some surprising scenes of battles ancient and modern and descriptions of death (both animals and humans) and skullduggery which is almost Shakespearean in scope. There are also some ghosts who are more or less benevolent in context, but might well be scary for very young and/or sensitive readers. 

The unabridged audiobook version has a run time of 6 hours, 40 minutes and is capably narrated by James Fouhey. He has good range for the scope of the characters, adults and juveniles, animals and humans. I was a bit taken aback that he has an American accent (the story's set in England/Scotland) but after a few minutes I was immersed in the story and didn't notice. He does a very good job delineating the different characters and there are many. Sound & production quality were high throughout.

Four stars. I really loved the pervasive sense of magic and wonder throughout the story. The main characters are well rendered and appealing. This would be a good selection for public or school library acquisition, story time at the library, and home library. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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Alternating point-of-view between various animal species as well as some humans drives the plot of this story at a fairly rapid pace. Despite the many POVs, I had no trouble following the narrators for each chapter. The choices of each character subsequently affect other characters until the convergence of all the characters and the culmination of all the events. There is more than one mystery to be solved, adding an element of suspense to the action of the story. Since the setting is mainly in the beaver’s environment, readers not only learn some interesting facts about beavers but also see a glimpse of their world.
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3.5 stars

This is a middle school book set in a secret part of England called Glendunny, where beavers have been hiding out for at least half a century. I don't want to reveal any spoilers, but they have built a successful community, hidden from the two-leggers. the one rule that all of them know and follow is that they must avoid being seen by the two-leggers. After an earthquake shakes up their community, strange things start to happen and then young Dunwattle sees something that makes him panic and swim far enough away that he IS seen by a two-legger. Overall, I enjoyed reading and listening to this recording. The recording I listened to was not a normal audiobook, but instead was a synthesized voice generated by NetGalley, but it was much better than the ones I've listened to before. The voice had a British accent and somehow it fit the story and made it better.

The story itself has some gruesome descriptions of a massacre that occurred 700+ years ago, so more sensitive readers might not be able to handle it. But I think that middle grade is an appropriate age level for this story. Although this is clearly fantasy and the main characters are the beavers, the swan Elsinore, and a few other animals, this story clearly incorporates the issue of racism, racial purity, and bullying, both by kids and adults. It also includes information about Beavers being hunted for their pelts and because humans think they destroy the land with their dams, but this story talks about the good that Beavers do and how they protect the water table and that without them, our Earth would truly be in trouble. There was a lot more to this story than met the eye.

I really liked Dunwattle and Lockley's friendship and how they eventually befriended Yrynn and Elsinore was also a very interesting character. It was also interesting finding out what exactly was happening with the community and the mixture of the supernatural with what was happening.

At around the second half, the story got better and better for me, but where it lost me was the end. Some of the ending I really liked, but I wasn't really clear about what happened to Elsinore, and I also wanted a little bit more about how the rest of the community reacted when they discovered what truly happened. It's like there were a couple of chapters of explanation missing. I believe the addition of a couple more chapters would have made this story much more satisfying and I would have bumped up my rating.

I received an advance review copy from NetGalley for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Audio for the synthesized audio ARC of this! 

I thought this was such a fun little story! The pacing seemed good and it was a little creepy and dark. I expect my 8 year old will love it, as she is a fan of creepy or cute (but especially of a mash up of the two). The ghosts were creepy but kind to our main characters, and there was a plot to kill off beaver royalty (including Dunwattle) - as mentioned in the synopsis he is spotted by two legs and destined to be banished/killed over this. I don’t want to say more and get into spoiler territory. I liked the various POVs, as well as the mix of human ideas and beaver lore. 
For fans of Warriors, The Lion King, and other animal-protagonist stories with a side of danger, I think this will be perfect for the 8-12 range.
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New series by the same author as The Guardians of Ga'hoole, so fans of that series will have something new to try.  Dunwattle is a beaver from a secret colony in Scotland, where beavers haven't been seen by humans in hundreds of years, until someone spots him.  There is lots of action and adventure as Dunwattle must try to save their colony from the humans seeking their fur.    I feel that kids that prefer animals as the main characters will enjoy this book.  The cover art is also very visually appealing and will attract those readers that pull a book because the cover grabs them.
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I was given the opportunity to review the audiobook for this book. I really tried but I can’t. The names are so peculiar yet similar that it’s for me to keep them straight.  I also was not expecting what happened to be in a children’s book.  Personally, it was a bit dark for me.  I wouldn’t recommend this for my family.  

I would like to thank NetGalley, Kathryn Laskey for the opportunity to review this title.
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This was a overall ok book. I listened to the audio Version which was nice at times I was a little confused at times about the different characters but that maybe just me . I would recommend for a younger reader
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Move over "Peter Rabbit", "Wind in the Willows", and all of our favorite anthropomorphic heroes and villains.  There's a new guy in town, a beaver kit named Dunwattle.  The sheer magic of this story will keep readers of all ages entranced.  I listened to the audio version and it's worth every moment it takes to get to the end.  Engaging, adventurous, and suspenseful with lots of twists and turns.  The characters are delightful from our first introduction to Dunwattle to his friends and a very special Swan.  Classic story telling with heart and soul.
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Good story.  I liked the use of different animal characters.  Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook
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Dunwattle the beaver learns a lot of important lessons in Lasky's book.  He learns about true friendship, courage, and helping those who are less fortunate than you.   Sounds like a lovely book for an 8-year-old, right?  While I expected some spookiness from this - after all, the title includes "The Haunting" - I didn't expect it to be as dark as it was.  There is talk of violent death, betrayal, and outright murder.  Not a great bedtime story for a young one to read on their own.  
With that said, the story was great for an older child, or as one to read to a younger child and talk about.  Personally, I don't think an 8-year-old average reader would be able to handle some of the vocabulary, anyway.  
I also liked how Lasky peppered the tale with facts about beavers and the other animals that populate this tale.  Lots of stuff I didn't know!  
Overall, The Secret of Glendunny: The Haunting is a great intro for older kids who like mystery, ghosts, and crime.  For younger kids, it's a book to read and discuss.
#TheSecretofGlendunnyTheHaunting #NetGalley
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I didn't care for this book. I found the plot to be extremely slow for an adventure book and there were si many characters which just made it worse. The book didn't even really get going until a third of the way though. Then they threw in this weird racism subplot that didn't really seen necessary to me it just made the story drag even more. I can't see young readers putting up with the slow pacing of this plot. I feel as if this is definitely on the older end of middle grade for that reason. Overall I think there are definitely kids out there who would like this but I am not one of them.
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I liked this book by Kathryn Lasky.  I enjoyed how she mixed animals facts into the story to make the story more interesting while pushing the story forward.  I liked that the story focused on beavers, a very hardworking and cute animal that does not get enough attention.  I did not like that the story was so dark (murder, hunting, death talk).  I know that this is real life but she really took me out of the story with so much of it.  
I did listen to the audiobook and did not read the book.  Maybe because of this I found myself  lost and/or confused about who was "talking" in the story. I am not sure if this was because of the reader or just the audio version limitations. There are so many characters this also sometimes made it hard to follow along while listening to the story.  
Overall a very interesting book for young readers but one I would recommend for those on the older side.
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I had not read any Kathryn Lasky books before listening to The Secret of Glendunny: The Haunting.  I was surprised at the popularity of her other series as this book seemed both dull and too much at the same time.  Maybe I haven't read a world building book in a long time, but the fact that it took nearly a quarter of the book before the plot really got rolling left me confused.  I listened to the prologue three times before realizing that I just didn't understand what was going on.  I think the prologue should have been about the earthquake that apparently led to the events of this book.  It is referenced often without being described, which is fine if the rest of the plot was clear. 
This story takes place at a secret pond in Scotland called Glendunny.  The pond was created by beavers who fled Henry VIII and have a society similarly structured to many human civilizations.  The most important law for the colony is never to be seen by a two-legs (person).  Breaking that law is punishable by banishment or death by lynx.  
Early on in the book we learn that the main character, Dunwattle, is the grandson of the former leader of the colony before she was murdered by a curse of lynx.  After he is spooked by a pair of ghost children Dunwattle runs away and is seen by a rodent researcher.  He races back to the pond and nothing happens for a few chapters.  Within that time we meet multiple characters and it is unclear how they fit into the main story.  There was not much adventure throughout this book.
At some point a racism subplot is revealed.  One of the characters is a Canadian beaver and they are looked down upon from the Scottish beavers.  The racism really hits you on the head and is pretty over-the-top.  Especially at the end of the book when the children main characters are essentially murdered in part because one of them is Canadian.  
This is the first book in a duology but the cliffhanger is not enough to make me wonder what will happen to the characters.  The only one I'd be interested in reading more about would be the swan.  I think some tweens would like this book and want to read a second, but the slow burn of the plot is really slow for an adventure middle grade book.
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