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Autumn: the season of endings. And beginnings.

Especially for one young apprentice.

At the annual Festival of the Hunt, thirteen-year-old apprentice goblin hunter Finn MacCullen and his master, Gideon Lir, join other Tuatha De Danaan to honor their people’s heritage. But Finn soon realizes that there are some who denounce his right to attend due to his half-human bloodline.

As he struggles to keep his place by his master’s side, he finds himself embroiled in a decades-old grudge between Gideon and another Knight, bewildered (and beguiled) by a female apprentice with a temper as explosive as his own, and battling a pack of goblins determined to wipe out the entire camp in a surprise attack.

It’s going to take some fancy knife work, the help of a female Knight with a lethal bow, and one old pick up truck to defeat the goblins and prove to his people that Finn’s blood runs true-blue Tuatha De Danaan.

224 pages, Paperback

First published January 13, 2015

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About the author

Darby Karchut

19 books256 followers
Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, former teacher, and compulsive dawn greeter. Her many books include DEL TORO MOON (middle grade fantasy series) and ON A GOOD HORSE (middle grade contemporary). She is the recipient of the Colorado Book Award, the High Plains Book Award, the Will Rogers Medallion Award, the Moonbeam Children’s Book Silver Award, and the IPPY Silver Award. A native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby can be found wrangling words. Visit the author at www.darbykarchut.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Owl Hollow Press.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews
Profile Image for Kelly Hager.
3,102 reviews132 followers
February 27, 2014
The best Finn MacCullen novel yet; I am desperate for book four. (Darby, please write more, fast.)
Profile Image for Deb.
555 reviews32 followers
December 28, 2014
So very sad that I finished this book! NO NO NO!!!!! Now I have to wait until 2016...2016 to read the next book!!! NO NO NO!!! Sorry, just had to let that out. Finn, Gideon and friends continue to grow in who they are and how they relate to each other. Darby's characters are true to life. It's easy to believe that they are real. Finn is a young teen, not sure about girls, always screwing up. That lack of self confidence makes him not only lovable but very realistic. Gideon is a tough teacher, with a heart of gold. We all know someone like these characters. This story takes place at Festival of the Hunt. First thing that grabbed me is the hurling game. My sis-in-law played this game. The stick is called a Hurley stick. My maternal grandpa's last name is Hurley. So I instantly connected to the story. Finn has so many enemies, just because he's a "halfer". So many Tweens & teens can relate to being unpopular & picked on for whatever reason. This story is full of action as the Knights of the Tuatha De Danaan are holding the Festival in the mist of a large gathering of goblins. Let's not forget that Gideon also has his enemies at the Festival too. There is never a dull moment. This series should be in every school library and book store. This series is every bit as good as Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and yes, I do also compare it was Charlie Bone by Jennie Nimmo. That is some big shoes to fill but Finn fills them!
Profile Image for Mavel Diaz.
57 reviews39 followers
January 15, 2015
Otra excelente historia! Simplemente amo estos libros y me dejan desesperada por el que sigue.

Finn MacCullen y Gideon Lir son de mis personajes favoritos y conforme va creciendo su realción padre-hijo, va creciendo mi amor por ellos.
Profile Image for Beverly McClure.
Author 17 books453 followers
December 12, 2014
Have you ever read a book that you just don’t want it to end? A book where the characters are so real to you that you hurt when they hurt and laugh when they laugh?

Award winning author Darby Karchut writes that kind of book. From her Griffin Series to her Finn MacCullen series, Ms. Karchut’s characters take you along on their adventures, their dangers, their tender moments, and their funny moments. In the author’s latest novel, THE HOUND AT THE GATE: Book Three of The Adventures of Finn MacCullen series, for tween/mg readers, you’ll feel like you’re with Knight Gideon Lir and his apprentice, Finn McCullen, as they attend the Festival of the Hunt. You’ll face the Amandans, Goblins that you don’t want to meet on a dark night, or in bright daylight for that matter, with Finn and Gideon as they fight to save their lives and the lives of the other knights.

Finn may be half Fey and half Mortal, but he’s also a boy. Put him together with Lochlan, another apprentice in training to be a knight. Add a girl knight in training and you have typical thirteen-year-olds with tempers. Like most teens they often make bad choices along with good ones. I love the kids because they’re so human, well, in their behavior, anyway, if you overlook their amazing skills with bows and arrows and knives.

THE HOUND AT THE GATE is a story of dashing knights and evil goblins. Most of all, it’s a story of fatherly love between a man who loves a boy as though he were his birth son. It’s the story of a boy that cannot imagine his life without his knight. There is a bond between Finn and Gideon that’s as strong as or stronger than a flesh and blood father and son.

Ms. Karchut’s books keep getting better and better. I wonder what Finn and Gideon will be up to in the next novel in the series. The author gives us a sneak peek of the fourth book due out in 2016. She also includes a page of notes with information on the Scáthach, as well as a page explaining the different words and phrases used in the story.

This novel would make a great addition to public libraries and school classrooms and libraries for discussion of Celtic mythology and of the true meaning of friendship and family.

My review is from an ARC that I was fortunate to receive. Watch for THE HOUND AT THE GATE’s debut on January 13, 2015. You don’t want to miss this one.

Profile Image for Kathy Martin.
3,504 reviews79 followers
December 13, 2014
This third adventure of Finn MacCullen finds him thirteen and beginning to notice girls as potential girlfriends. He is feeling more comfortable with Gideon as a teacher and mentor. They are building a very strong relationship.

Finn and Gideon are going to a Festival which gathers the Tuatha De Danaan to celebrate the fall equinox. Of course, there are hurdles. One of the ruling council doesn't want to admit Finn because he is half human. Also, an old enemy of Gideon's is attending with his apprentice who just happens to be a cousin of Finn's who spent a lot of time bullying him when Finn lived with his family.

The Festival starts out with a variety of fights as Finn battles with his cousin Ennis and Gideon battles Jack Tully, Ennis's mentor. And as those battles end, the Amandén show up in force. The book is filled with battles. Luckily, Gideon's friend Mac Roth and his apprentice Lochlan are along to help. They also meet Knight Kel O'Shea and her new apprentice Tara Butler. Gideon is attracted to Kel but neither Lochlan or Finn want to have anything to do with the abrasive and quick-tempered Tara. Finn has a very unfortunate first meeting with Tara that leaves him with his foot deep in his mouth. Lochlan especially has taken her in dislike; whereas Finn is willing to be polite. Lochlan and Finn have their disagreements too. Lochlan is determined to kill a goblin to win his torc. He needs to do this to alleviate the pressure his father, a council member, is putting on him. But it seems like Finn has to step in and save his life each time he gets near killing his first goblin.

Gideon, Finn, Mac Roth and Lochlan have been keeping a secret about Finn. That secrets comes out during the largest battle with the Amandén (goblins) which leads to a very hard decision. Finn's legendary status may mean that he will have to leave Gideon.

I can't wait to read the next adventure and share these adventures with my students.
Profile Image for Tracy.
192 reviews7 followers
March 13, 2015
This series just keeps getting better. Darby's characters are so believable...so loveable...so...well, I can't say enough. This maybe a Middle Grade series, but it has wrapped hold of my heart! And these characters will remain at the top of my all-time favorite literary characters!
Profile Image for Gaby.
226 reviews
March 31, 2015
Loved it!!
Can't wait to read the next one but I'm sad it'll be the final book.
Profile Image for RoloPoloBookBlog.
1,102 reviews30 followers
February 7, 2015
The Hound at the Gate by Darby Karchut
Book #3: The Adventures of Finn MacCullen
Source: ARC from author
My Rating: 5/5 stars
My Review:

As I sit down to write this review the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. To clarify, that adage comes to mind in a very, very good way.

Before I dove into The Hound at the Gate I re-read my review of Gideon’s Spear, book two in The Adventures of Finn MacCullen series. (click here to read my review) At the end of that read I was all kinds of frustrated by my own inability to see where the series is going and where and how all the characters are going to come into play. This was an unusual spot for me where Darby Karchut’s writing is concerned since I have always seen her books as so easily readable and quite satisfying. Needless to say, I was a bit wary of diving into The Hound at the Gate. I am happy to report, The Hound at the Gate left me in no such state and I find that this read is very much a back to basics sort of read with an intense focus on just a few characters who are involved in a very focused plot. That is, a Darby Karchut read!! As I said in the beginning, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Finn MacCullen’s life is as it has been with Gideon Lir. Finn trains, hunts the bog-born, does his chores, does his homework, works on his cheekiness and, worries constantly about being the legendary weapon known as Gideon’s Spear. But on to more important matters. For the first time ever, Finn is attending the Festival of the Hunt, a time when the Knights, their families and, apprentices gather in a sort of family reunion and participate in hunts and games. The Festival is meant to be a time of comradery, friendship and, sport but as Finn quickly learns, it is also a time for old rivalries and grudges to be reawakened and new rivalries and alliances to be forged. On the bright side, Finn gets to share a tent with his best friend and fellow apprentice, Lochlan 

From the moment Finn and Gideon arrive at the Festival things are wonky. As the master and apprentice present themselves to the high council, Finn is reminded of his halfer status and just how much some among the Tuatha despise him and his status. Though they aren’t allowed to wander far, Finn and Lochlan are allowed to roam around the camp and it doesn’t take long for the two to find trouble in the form of Finn’s cousin, Ennis. Though Ennis is related to Finn he cares nothing for him and is quick to point out how useless and unwanted the halfer is. Not surprisingly, much of Ennis’s attitude comes from his master, Jack Tully, a man who has a long-time hatred of Gideon. From the moment the Festival begins, Finn and Gideon are fighting for and defending one another from the hatred and bigotry fostered by a few heartless individuals. Though these numerous events are certainly unfortunate, they give the reader a very real insight into some of the attitudes among the Tuatha, the true nature (both good and bad!) of several characters and, the extent to which Finn and Gideon are willing to go to protect the other.

As if the anger and bigotry weren’t enough, the beasties are aware of the annual gathering and have organized large numbers to attack the gathering in the hope of overwhelming the Knights through surprise and sheer numbers. The plan damn near works and over the course of several very fast chapters, we see the Tuatha (or most of them at any rate) rise up to defeat their enemy and protect their own. Desperate times call for desperate measures and while Gideon had hoped to keep Finn’s status as the Spear a secret, it becomes necessary to out the boy in order to protect the group at large. As you might expect, the outing of Finn has consequences and when everything shakes out in the end, Finn and Gideon are left with the most unlikely of allies and the most daunting of tasks.

The Bottom Line: The Hound at the Gate is the type of read I have come to expect from Darby Karchut. In case you aren’t sure, it’s also the kind of read I love. Hound focuses its attention on a core group of characters and a highly specific plot line that is carried through from start to finish. The Festival of the Hunt provides the perfect setting from some very intense and very interesting character studies. It has been clear in the last two books that Gideon and Finn are fond of one another but Hound really drives the point home and reveals the depth of affection the two have for one another. This loving relationship is balanced by the extreme hatred and bigotry of Ennis MacCullen, Jack Tully and, Martin O’Neill. These three are truly evil and though I can’t say I care for any of them, I do very much like the balance they provide. To be sure, Karchut introduces a few new characters in this read but their role is very clear and well defined. Their presence isn’t at all confusing and is, in fact an indication of further plot development as the series continues.
The action in this read is just perfect and though there are extended scenes of fighting and hunting, those scenes are quickly paced, totally appropriate and, filled with more than just bloodshed. It is during these scenes that Karchut takes the opportunity to kill off at least one character and forge new alliances between some of the characters. No spoilers here, you’re gonna have to figure this out for yourself! Finally, in the closing moments of the read, Karchut takes the opportunity to bring back Iona and what happens with her will leave you somewhat stunned and angry that it isn’t 2016 yet. Yes, I am already lusting after a book that won’t be out for another full year. Damn you, Darby K., damn you, I say!!!
Profile Image for Tom.
325 reviews30 followers
May 12, 2015
Once again, author Darby Karchut shows off her amazing knack for building on each installment of a series, making each book better than the last.

In the Adventures of Finn MacCullen series, Ms. Karchut hasn’t struck a bad note yet, but the third book—“The Hound at The Gate”—surpasses even its two predecessors.

The first two novels mainly focus on the relationship between apprentice Finn “Don’t Call Me Finnegan” MacCullen and his Knight, Gideon Lir. We watch as Finn struggles to learn all the skills required to make him a full-blown knight in the ancient Tuatha De Danaan realm.

The first novel—“Finn Finnegan”—shows Finn’s early training, and the dangers that surround this world so new to Finn. The second novel—“Gideon’s Spear”—shows Finn come into his own, gaining confidence and skill, and showing the traits that will make him a brave warrior in his own right.

In the third installment, “The Hound at The Gate,” Ms. Karchut shifts gears a bit. Rather than focusing solely on Gideon and Finn, she gives us a glimpse into the entire Tuatha De Danaan world.

The location is The Festival, a gathering of Tuatha De Danaan from all over. It’s a sort of ancient warrior Woodstock, with feasts, music, and challenges, a chance for Knights and Apprentices to renew old friendships, and—especially for Gideon and Finn—some old rivalries.

Also attending The Festival—crashing the gates is more like it—are the Amandan, fierce goblin-like creatures whose favorite food happens to be Tuatha De Danaan.

Things turn ugly early, as certain people question Finn’s right to attend The Festival, since he comes from a Knight father and a mortal mother. This internecine tension crackles throughout “The Hound at The Gate,” as if the Amandan weren’t enemy enough.

Repeatedly, Finn finds himself locked in combat for his life and that of his friends.

And those were the good times.

On one night of The Festival, the unthinkable happens. A massive army of Amandan force the Tuatha De Danaan to retreat. Things look hopeless. Only incredible bravery by a handful of Knights stands between being vanquished or living to see another morning.

As the battle winds down, Finn becomes embroiled in yet another quarrel regarding his status, this time due to his uniqueness, not his difference. At stake is his future as a trainee, and the chance that he could be forever separated from his beloved mentor, Gideon.

I can’t stress enough how much of a page-turner “The Hound at The Gate” is. I’ve learned better than to start one of Ms. Karchut’s novels before bedtime, since I know I’ll read all night, and never get any sleep.

As interesting as the lives of the Tuatha De Danaan are in the first two novels, “The Hound at The Gate” gives us a broader glimpse into this mythical world. We see the alliances and rivalries within the group. We learn about the hierarchy and ruling body, and we see all of these things disappear when the Amandan mount a full-scale attack. Knights and apprentices work together, regardless of position or personal feelings. There’s a job to do, and each is prepared to defend the group to his or her dying breath.

I say “his or her” advisedly, because one of the highlights in this novel is the introduction of a feisty female Knight named Kel, and her equally feisty apprentice. Needless to say, these two women leave Gideon and Finn utterly flummoxed, even as they more than prove themselves equals to the men in the group.

Ms. Karchut does a wonderful job providing rich description, setting a visual stage against which the battle will be fought. Then she lets fly with the action.

“The Hound at The Gate” is my favorite thus far of the “Adventures of Finn MacCullen” series, primarily because of the expanded view it gives of the warrior group. While the action is plentiful and powerful, I like the quieter moments as well. Here, we see the people behind the flashing daggers and swinging axes. We can see our own groups mirrored in the Tuatha De Danaan, with all of humankind’s foibles, strengths, and weaknesses.

We also see how all of Gideon’s training has rubbed off on Finn. Not just on the battlefield, but in other areas as well.

Like the rest of The Adventures of Finn MacCullen series, “The Hound at The Gate” is classified as a “middle-grade” book. Also like the rest of the series, “The Hound at The Gate” serves as an excellent read for adults, too.

My only complaint is that Ms. Karchut is making us wait till 2016 for the next installment. That’s a long time to wait for such an exciting series.

Most Highly Recommended

(nb: I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher)
Profile Image for Brendan  Muller.
48 reviews24 followers
February 10, 2015
( I received a copy of this book from NetGalley, in exchange for a honest review.)

This is the third book in the adventures of Finn McCullen series of middle grade books.
I having not read the first two found this a bit confusing at first, but in this book Finn is 13. I got into it quickly and i liked the writing style, it had a few funny scenes, but i will definitely revisit this series after i have read the first two books.
Profile Image for Amanda Kern.
725 reviews5 followers
March 5, 2015
Can't wait for the next book

I want to know what happens next. I mean how much more trouble can this kid get into. It seems to follow him around. I especially want to know about the voice he keeps arguing with.
Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews

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