Tag Archives: talking animals

Review of The Dark Dream – Book 4 of the Beaver Towers series by Nigel Hinton

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Oscar and I finally completed our time with Philip and his talking animal companions with the fourth and last book in this series. Would it sustain the standard set by the other books? See my reviews of Beaver Towers and The Witches Revenge.

thedarkdreamIn this fourth Beaver Towers adventure, Philip and old Mr Edgar set off on their travels so that Philip can learn how to use his powers to fight evil. But while they are away, the island itself is under threat from a strange creature named Retson. This time it is up to Baby B, the little beaver and Nick, the hedgehog, to save the day.

Those who have been following the series will immediately realise there is a major difference with this book – the major protagonist throughout the other books, Philip, is missing from the main adventure. This story is told through the viewpoint of Baby B and Nick, the little hedgehog. This wasn’t a concern for us, as Baby B had already stolen much of the limelight by this part of the tale. Philip is now growing into his magical powers and I think Hinton’s decision to remove him and Mr Edgar from the scene, leaving the two small animals at the centre of the adventure was a shrewd move. It also prevented this story falling into any kind of formulaic pattern, especially as Baby B and Nick become rather conceited and full of themselves regarding their magic – with consequences that impact on the rest of the story.

Hinton also produced yet another scary and all-too-plausible villain who poses a real threat to the inhabitants of Beaver Towers – to the extent that Baby B and Nick are forced to go on the run. The tension as the frightened animals flee through the hidden tunnel pings off the page and I was quite relieved when Oscar asked me to complete the story the following day during the afternoon. It wasn’t necessarily one to settle him down to sleep. That apart, we both were drawn into the adventure and I genuinely wanted to know what would happen next.

Retsnom’s power is in danger of overwhelming everyone left in Beaver Towers, so Baby B and Nick decide to return to try and save them. Oscar and I discussed whether this was a good idea – before returning to the action. The conclusion was suitably dramatic and the ending, once more, emphasised the importance of courage and kindness and looking out for each other, without sounding overly preachy.

All in all, it was once again, a thoroughly enjoyable and gripping read that ended on a positive note and while there were scary moments, six-year-old Oscar didn’t find it too daunting. We agreed it was another really good book and a suitable end to the series.
8/10

Review of Beaver Towers – Book 1 of the Beaver Towers series by Nigel Hinton

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I’d bought this series for Frankie when the first book was read to her at school and she was desperate to discover what would happen next. And now, I’ve just finished reading it to her younger brother – was he as entranced by Philip and Baby B?

beavertowersPhilip notices a small dark cloud as he starts to fly the mysterious dragon kite he discovers in the corner of his room – but he could not imagine what happens as the wind picks up. And where he ends up…

And no – that isn’t the original blurb, which manages to give all the main plot points in this slim volume, except the finale. Hinton’s prose is economical with plenty of repetitive words for those newly independent readers, but the strength of this story is the layers of characterisation he manages to pack into his amusing dialogue. There is plenty of humour in this adventure story – we all laughed at Baby B and some of the misunderstandings that arise between the absent-minded Mr Edgar and dear old Mrs Badger. But set against the chuckles, there are also some genuinely creepy moments, when young Philip is in real danger.

I’ll forgive Hinton the rather rapid denouement, as the story is deftly continued in the sequel, which we are currently reading, as Oscar was every bit as entranced with the story as Frankie. He is far less inclined to sit still and listen as carefully, so it is a testament to the power of this pacey, enjoyable story with its cast of memorable characters. As for me – this was a second time I’d read it aloud. Did I enjoy it as much the second time around?

Oh yes. The prose is well written and I always enjoy providing various voices for strong characters. If you have some youngsters in your life of 6 or 7, who enjoy being read to and you want a slice of fantastic adventure to offer them, then you could do a lot worse than track down this engaging book.
9/10