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Reviewed by Cheryl Schopen for Readers' Favorite
In Before the Full Moon Rises, the first book in the Chronicles of the Secret Prince, by M.J. Bell, young teenager Deston loses his mother after she disappears, and he has no idea what happened to her. He is sent clear across the world to live with a distant relative of his mother’s whom he has never met. While exploring the forest near his new home, he discovers the realm of Tir na-nÓg, where faeries and monsters are very real. With his new friend, Margaux, Deston uncovers the truth about his mother, himself, and his destiny, and now he must do everything in his power to rescue his mom before something terrible happens. Together, Deston and Margaux must travel to where they think Deston’s mother is being held while attempting to overcome tremendously difficult obstacles, such as gigantic bats and a huge wolf determined to stop Deston in his tracks. Deston may be out of his element, but he will do whatever it takes to bring his mom home.
I really enjoyed following Deston on this very exciting and dangerous journey. It reminded me of a combination of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings stories. While the point of view seemed just a tad confusing at times, the unique plot and memorable characters definitely made up for it. As Deston gradually discovers this new world and who he truly is, I felt like I was on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure with him, which made it difficult for me to put the book down. It was full of exciting and equally intense moments, some heart-warming scenes, and plenty of enjoyable parts for fantasy/magic fans. Before the Full Moon Rises is a must-read and M.J. Bell is a very talented writer and storyteller. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.