Book Review: Curse of the Were-Hyena by Bruce Hale

Curse of the Were-Hyena is the first book in the Monstertown Mystery series by Bruce Hale. Mr. Chu, the coolest teacher ever, has developed some very unusual habits, like laughing hysterically for no reason, sniffing people's homework, and chasing chickens. When best friends Carlos and Benny decide to find out what's happening to him, they get caught up in some moonlight madness. And it looks like just the beginning of the weirdness that has arrived in the town of Monterrosa.

Curse of the Were-Hyena is an entertaining read that will appeal to a wide audience. Carlos and Benny each get into a good amount of trouble as they do their best to save their teacher, unravel the mystery, and not become were-anything in the process. I like that they are fully aware of what they are doing and that the adults are not foolish. The adults might miss some things, but are not the clueless cutouts that are often found in children's books. Carlos' family is facing big changes, which gives the story an undercurrent of him trying to find his place in light of a younger sister with big things going on. Benny might be a little to reliable for the goofy option, but I still know people that think like his, so i still found his character to be realistic. The family dynamics play a role, and change as the story continues, which adds an extra dimension to the story. The mystery and supernatural elements kept me on my toes, and held a couple surprises for me. I was pleased to actually have some of the final twists to be unexpected, and in some cases completely so. While not a perfect story, it was well worth the read and I think  it will become a favorite series for many reluctant readers.

Curse of the Were-Hyena is a fast and fun story that will be a hit with middle grade readers. I think this is a series that might encourage more reluctant readers in that age range to follow the series and explore reading a little more.
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