This is one of the books I was made aware of by a fellow Bookstagrammer. It’s one of those things I like most about that community. Book recommendations, finding books I would otherwise never have had on my radar. “Del Toro Moon” is one of those books.
Twelve year old Matt Del Toro is the greenest greenhorn in his family’s centuries-old business: riding down and destroying wolf-like monsters, known as skinners. Now, with those creatures multiplying, both in number and ferocity, Matt must saddle up and match his father’s skills at monster whacking. Odds of doing that? Yeah, about a trillion to one. Because Matt’s father is the legendary Javier Del Toro—hunter, scholar, and a true caballero: a gentleman of the horse. Luckily, Matt has twelve hundred pounds of backup in his best friend—El Cid, an Andalusian war stallion with the ability of human speech, more fighting savvy than a medieval knight, and a heart as big and steadfast as the Rocky Mountains. Serious horse power. Those skinners don’t stand a chance.
“Del Toro Moon” is just the kind of Middlegrade book I love. It has an interesting premise and a variety of characters who I loved to get to know.
Some of them include the protagonist Matt who is just kinda starting out in the “family business”, Izzy, a plucky new warhorse on the farm that has to find a place in the family and the pompous but wise and warm El Cid. (I liked him best. El Cid….I loved El Cid.)
There is a variety of other characters which I liked but won’t get into too much detail about. They were all interesting though.
In general the book is very character driven. A very big focus lies on the main character’s feelings concerning his environment which might be a side effect of the book being written in first person. For me, this definitely paid off in a later part of the book, where Matt’s feelings are portrayed so vividly that I had to put the book down for a bit to calm myself before reading on. (There might have been tears in my eyes. I might have been seriously pissed. And annoyed. And angry at the world and frustrated and full of rage. That’s how good that was. I might also deny the tears. You cannot prove anything.)
On the other hand I felt like the actual story about the skinners kinda stayed in the background. I wish there would have been even more about them. Also more background, maybe some more stories about the ancestors. Also, I felt like events were kinda checked off rather quickly and sometimes not really mentioned afterwards. I liked the overall idea but I wish the author did more with it, a little more action, a little more adrenaline, a little bit more tied together.
That is my only critique with this though. I loved the book otherwise, loved the characters, how unique they were, how they interacted. (Kudos for proper portrayal of siblings. The bickering and teasing was just so wonderfully realistic.)
I’m very curious about the next book in the series and hope there will be more to come.