Book Review: Beyond the Gloaming


Beyond the Gloaming (Sebastian and the Hibernauts #1) 
Author: Brendan Murphy 
Published by: Phantasm 
Publication Date: 1 October 2014 
Page Count: 378 
Source: ebook provided by author 
Audience: Young Adult – Fantasy

Brendan Murphy takes the reader on a colorful journey through an amazing dreamworld in the first book of his series, Sebastian and the Hibernauts. Beyond the Gloaming is about Sebastian, a 12-year-old boy who has amazingly vivid dreams and nightmares of fantastical places and creatures. His real life is horrible: abused by his parents, bullied at school; trying to just make it through day-to-day life after his brother dies, Sebastian finds it easier to lose himself in his dreamworld, the good and the bad. But lately, he can’t tell whether he is awake or dreaming because the two worlds are blending together. He finds out the dreamworld, Hibercadia and the Gloaming, are real and he is a very important part of its survival. Soon he is journeying through the Gloaming to get to Hibercadia with terrifying friends, running to survive those who want him dead before he gets there. Once in Hibercadia, Sebastian meets a host of creatures and people, most want him to survive and help to restore order to their realm, others wish only for his destruction. He must continue his journey through Hibercadia to help and save those he has come to love as family. There are tragic losses along the way, but Sebastian must trek on, growing and finding his courage as he does.

I love the fantastical world that Brendan Murphy has created. The characters and places are familiar to those we know of from old Irish folklore and fairy tales, but still so unique to this story. Murphy’s imagination knows no limits it seems with his world building and it is such an amazing place, one I would love to visit myself.

The dialogue is almost lyrical and melodic at times, most of the characters speaking from ancient times, and it reads so fluidly. It’s a story I can imagine would be quite fun to read aloud. I love how the words flow almost as though it’s a poem or ballad from another era.

The story and imagery are so descriptive. It seems so easy to imagine what Porrig looks like, or the aiia, or the landscapes Sebastian and his friends traverse on their quest. Hibercadia seems like a beautiful world, a place of dreams, one anyone reading would love to visit. It has its dark parts as well, the horrible lands of Phobitor and the strange creatures that stalk Sebastian and friends. But all good, creative worlds must have their dark sides, or else it would be a boring story, indeed.

The book has a bit of a Harry Potter feel to it: a young boy abused, living a less than ideal life, finding out that the world is so much bigger than he first imagined; a young boy who finds out he is the chosen one, the one that must save his new friends and the world he has grown to love. It also has a bit of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit thrown in: Harry Potter meets Middle Earth. Though, it is still unique enough with its characters and storyline to stand on its own and not live in the shadows.

The story is very well written, but at times it seems a bit too grown up. The main character is a 12-year-old boy, but there are words thrown in that even I had to look up because I had never heard them before. At times, as much as I loved the dialogue, it could be a bit wordy and could possibly lose a kid’s interest. But despite that, it was still a great read. A bigger word thrown in here or there is good, keeps the reader learning.

I am looking forward to reading the continuing journey of Sebastian and his friends the Hibernauts. Brendan Murphy’s second book in the series, The Traitor’s Trap, is available now and is already on my list of to-be-reads for review very soon.

Favorite Thing About This Book: I love all the amazing and fantastical creatures. The magic and adventure. It’s a great read for anyone who loves a good adventure.

First Sentence: Sebastian was flying.

Favorite Character: Porrig

Least Favorite Characters: Sebastian's parents


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?