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Del Toro Tales #2

The Red Casket

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Never trust a witch.

For four hundred years, generations of the Family Del Toro and their battle-savvy warhorses have secretly guarded their corner of Colorado from all things creepy. But when a menacing woman with some wicked witch powers shows up at the Del Toro ranch and demands the return of the Red Casket, twelve year old Matt Del Toro must team up with his best friend Perry—along with the warhorses Rigo and Isabel—to out-wit, out-ride, and out-fight one Viking-size sorceress.

260 pages, Paperback

Published January 14, 2020

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About the author

Darby Karchut

19 books255 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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Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews
Profile Image for Beverly McClure.
Author 17 books453 followers
February 24, 2020
After reading Darby Karchut’s DEL TORO MOON a couple years ago, I’ve been waiting for more about the Del Toro family and their talking horses. Yes, their horses are very intelligent. They not only talk but watch over the family when they’re in trouble, which is often. Now, I have THE RED CASKET and, like DEL TORO MOON # 1, I’ve read it twice. I’m just not ready for the story to end, and now I’m waiting for Book #3.

For ten years I’ve been reading books by Darby Karchut, and each one gets better. THE RED CASKET, with twelve-year-old Matt Del Toro, his friend Perry, the horses with their own advice and opinions, his dad, and a witch take, the reader on a wild adventure. There’s mystery, too. What is the Red Casket? And why does the witch want it? Join Matt and the others as they make amazing discoveries. Enjoy.
Profile Image for Kaci.
836 reviews
June 19, 2020
In the second book of the Del Toro Moon series, The Red Casket, Matt finds himself with more responsibility as his older brother Ben is away helping another family of knights. Javier is a wise and competent father and leader of their clan, but even he has his weakness when it comes to the new bad girl in town, Hester Lemprey. In order to prove to his father (and himself) that he is up to the challenge of taking the lead, he, along with his BF Perry and their 2 Andalusian war horses Rigo and Izzy, ride into the Maze to take away the one this the witch Hester is after. Matt's actions lead to dire consequences as the Del Toros now have more creepy supernatural brujas to deal with than before. Javier is is able to restore Matt's confidence by trusting to take Hester one-on-one in order to save the rest of the crew. What comes next is a series of heroic deeds, followed by Matt's self-discovery of his true character in the face of a moral choice that will potentially guide his future warrior status forever. Darby Karchut has written an enthralling follow up to the series opener Del Toro Moon. The setting (Southern Colorado) is the perfect place to picture the ranches, slot canyons, and the possibility of mysterious creatures detailed in this story. Matt is a relatable protagonist; annoyed yet looks up to his older brother, respectful yet at times disobedient to his father, and navigating his first friendship with a girl. The horses Rigo, Izzy, and Turk (the Jerk) add wisdom, depth, and personality to round out the Del Toro family. The conversations between horse and human provide insight into the battles with skinners (bk.1) and their fierce loyalty, love, and safeguarding of one another. If you have a reader anywhere between the ages of 9-14, I truly believe this series has all the makings of a page-turner that your kid won't want to put down. As a middle school librarian, I have witnessed countless students fall in love with this series and are chomping at the bit (pun intended) to read more!
Profile Image for Kelly Hager.
3,097 reviews129 followers
January 26, 2020
I've been reading Darby Karchut for a long time, since her first novel was released. I have loved everything of hers I've read, the YA and the middlegrade and the adult books (I'm in one! I die. It's great). She wasn't the first middlegrade author I routinely read, but she's definitely one of the reasons that I read the genre even outside of the authors I already love who write MG sometimes. And again, I have LOVED everything of hers I've read.

I said all that to say this: The Red Casket is the best book she's written, hands down. My expectations were high and I knew this would be a great book, but holy crap, you guys. Holy crap. 

Darby really excels at writing relationships (father-son, but also friends and sibling relationships) and this is a great showcase of that. Matt is starting to have more responsibility and it's made clear that he's going to be the one to continue the "family business," which is, of course, dangerous and a major responsibility. He starts to freak out because he doesn't feel ready to make these big decisions and he puts so much pressure on himself. 

But the OTHER gift that Darby has is action sequences and this book is a roller coaster ride. I love the addition of the sorceress as a villain and there is...not really a cliffhanger so much as a sort of anvil of doom hanging over the end of the book. I'm very excited that my usual request of a sequel is definitely being met, but I hope that third book comes out soon. Like, ideally this afternoon soon.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Candice.
Author 12 books20 followers
April 29, 2020
A great sequel to Del Toro Moon with just as much heart and adventure as the first when the two- and four-legged Del Toro family (along with best friend Perry) works together to defeat their newest foe, a wand-welding hag sorceress who demands the Red Casket.

To add to the tension, Matt knows he needs to pick up the reins so to speak, and in an effort to save his dad, takes a huge risk. Like so big I wasn't sure what the final cost would be.

Great mystery adventure with talking horses, lonely mesas, twisting spooky mazes, and family and friends who have your back through it all.
Profile Image for Brenda.
832 reviews35 followers
February 6, 2020
In the previous book in the series, the reader was introduced to "skinners," or these creepy creatures that are all bloody and kinda resemble a "fresh-skinned animal carcass." The reader also learned that Matt and his family are a part of this ancient order of Knights sworn to protect the world against these creatures. With their talking Andalusian warhorses, they've been able to keep the skinners at bay. Much of the first book centered on Matt's training with some awesome fights against these creatures.

Matt is the kind of character that I so adore. He's not overly confident, hesitant at times, even introspective. He's always looked up to his dad and respects him as not only his father but also for his skills in hunting. In the first book, Matt was concerned about whether he was up to the challenge, he had a lot that he wanted to prove to his family. Not to mention wanting to prove to his older brother that he could be a strong fighter. That he could wield a mace, stay on his horse and most importantly not get himself killed. But now that they lost one of their most knowledgeable horses and a dear friend in the previous book, Matt is not only feeling his loss but he's also concerned with whether or not their newest member, Rigo is happy being paired up with him.

In this book, Matt learns that he's being groomed to take over the family business. It's a choice that Matt isn't sure that he would make. Is he ready for the responsibility? Does he have what it takes? One of the themes I felt the story was trying to convey was the idea that there isn't "a right or wrong decision, only the best decision that you can make at the time." Which plays in nicely as Matt begins questioning his leadership skills. Matt's father gives him the room to make his own decisions while at the same time supporting him. Even when Matt makes a huge mistake, he doesn't chastise him for it. He instead encourages him to take it as a learning experience. I so enjoy these interactions between Matt and his dad. Matt has shown such growth from the first book, he's making some of his own choices and even taking on more of a leadership role, especially when his dad is called away to Denver. He's incorporated some of his previous conversations with El Cid about the importance of staying together and is learning to become a leader. I'm really curious to see how this evolves further in the next book in the series.

Family dynamics are a huge part of the story, but so is the action. When this white-haired woman shows up asking for the red casket, Matt knows that she means trouble. She tries to negotiate for the casket at first, but after being told flatly "no", she's not willing to back down either. She means business. It definitely builds toward a high stake ending. Overall I love the feeling of family, connection, loyalty, sacrifice and the special bond that exists between horse and rider. The story has a lovely southwestern flair and the positive message that family will always be there to support and love you.
** I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review **
Profile Image for Nick Garlick.
Author 8 books4 followers
January 30, 2020
I’m not a big fan of multi-volume sagas, but I’m making an exception for Del Toro Moon, Darby Karchut’s stories of the Colorado family that fights ancient demons with the aid of... talking Andalusian war horses.

I wrote in my review of the first book that it might sound too Disney-cute for words. It wasn’t then. It still isn’t. The horses’ dialogue is a major part of the attraction here, and it’s good snappy dialogue. Turk, Rigo and Izzy come across as real individuals and I loved every page they took over.

Good story, touching ending and a GREAT villain; I hope there’s a lot more of her in the next installments. In short, I’m already waiting for the third volume.
Profile Image for RoloPoloBookBlog.
1,102 reviews29 followers
December 23, 2021
The Red Casket by Darby Karchut
Book #2: Del Toro Tales Series
Source: Author, Purchase, NetGalley, and Owl Hollow Press
Rating 5 stars


The Bottom Line: Holy TALKING HORSES, Batman! If I haven’t mentioned it in a hot minute or two, I love books with talking animals. Talking animals always add another dimension to a story and in this particular series, the TALKING HORSES are integral part of the story. The horses are prominent characters whose attitudes, language, and actions make them standouts among the cast of characters. If I am honest, I get so much more pleasure out of the TALKING HORSES than I do out of the humans. Don’t get me wrong, the humans are fine, beautifully developed characters – especially Perry! – but they come second to the TALKING HORSES for me. Finally, I found the plot to this story to be all kinds of exciting and entertaining. Who doesn’t love a sorceress with a grudge and a mission? Oh, and does anyone else think that scene with Perry and the sorceress may have somehow altered Perry?? I’m looking forward to an answer to that particular question as well as the future endeavors o the Del Toro family and their amazing TALKING HORSES.
Profile Image for Starr.
625 reviews7 followers
February 6, 2020
I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

“I simply thought of the excursions as our family’s business. The business being creepy critter search-and-destroy. We ran it old-school style, complete with battle-savvy warhorses and magic-powered iron maces.” -Matt Del Toro, Red Casket-pg.7

This is the sequel to Del Toro Moon, so if you haven’t read that, then I suggest that you read that first.

Matt Del Toro and his family has been protecting their corner of Colorado from the monsters known as Skinners. In the last book there was the discovery of the red casket, and people are still after it. When a Viking woman comes seeking the red casket and threatens his family, Matt does what he has to so that his family is safe – no matter how dysfunctional they may be.

I have been a fan of Karchut’s from all the way back to her first novel, Griffin’s Fire. And, I followed her through the completion of that series (even if we disagree on it being finished) to her next series and her adult series and standalone. This is an author that I am with for the long haul. If I am honest, it is not just because her stories are amazing and always find a way to play with my emotions. She is genuinely a nice person. I believe that I have reviewed every single book of hers, mostly over on my sister blog. And I have to admit that I have yet to be disappointed by anything that I read of hers. Don’t get me wrong – I have been mad at her – have you read her Finn series? Did you read Del Toro Moon? I have disagreed with her – I am still awaiting a fourth Griffin book no matter what she says. And these are all very valid reasons to be mad. I’ve had a lot of emotions while reading her books- and disappointment has never been one of those emotions. I trust her completely to deliver an amazing story that begs to be shared with everyone far and wide. She may think that I’m joking when I tell her that my son is excited when we have a new book from her to read, but I’m not.

There are certain things that I have come to expect from a Karchut book; a dead/missing mother (maybe Disney’s not the only one with a morbid back story issue -I kid), a nurturing father, a male main character that on the surface is not very special or stand out but has heart. If you have read any of her books than you know that you don’t have to have special powers. You can be any regular kid. But if you have heart than you really do have the power to save the world. Matt is just a kid who is full of self doubt and awkwardness but who really is trying to do the right thing by those he loves. He make mistakes, he doesn’t always listen. Sometimes he does things so terribly wrong (ahem… going behind your dad’s back to do the very thing he said not-even if you put your own safeguards in place definitely falls into this area). But nothing is ever so bad that he can’t recover from. Even if recovery means growing pains.

Matt has grown a lot since the last book, and I don’t think that I paid much attention until I sat down to right this review. The Matt that is in this book, is not the same boy that we met in Del Toro Moon. The growth is subtle but there. In this one, he is left to make more decisions on his own. While there may be something inside of him that embraces this, leading is not something that he is natural at. But he steps up, he makes the hard decisions. Even when his dad- who would normally hear him out – isn’t listening. He is not finished grieving and he struggles with his loss and embracing his new comrade as well. I really love the bond between Matt and His warhorse Rigo. There is always something special about the bond a boy and his animal partner -even if Karchut uses that to break your heart. (Yes I am still mad about that.) This story has made me a lot more curious about Turk’s backstory, but it also plants a seed of explanation of why he is the way that he is. I read the author’s note, so I know (and spoiler) that this is going to be a series which means more. And I definitely want more. That is another thing that I love, while we may not have the whole story, each book is a complete story.

There are only so many ways that I can say that I really enjoyed this book. I appreciate the way that the family is written. Javier is the really good at being the leader and training them to use their maces and all that being a knight of the coffer means. But he is nurturing, teaching them to be respectable and appreciative, instilling a strong sense of character in his sons. Ben and Matt are brothers in the typical sense but they also spend a lot of time watching out for one another. It’s nice to see a family that is not perfect but is still bonded to and love each other.

Sometimes it’s nice to know that the monsters really are just monsters. But in the learning how to fight them we discover the strength to stand against the ugliness in humanity and develop the character that turns young boys into good men.

“He lowered his neck and pressed his forehead against mine and let out a soft breath. The home-sweet-home aroma of horse and grass wafted over me. I closed my eyes and pressed back. “ -Matt Del Toro referring to Rigo, Red Casket pg. 199
Profile Image for Josh.
Author 1 book77 followers
April 6, 2020
A worthy sequel that does what the very best sequels do: builds upon the original, expands the mythology, and further develops our understanding of the important characters as they grow, change, and mature. Karchut makes it look easy. Highly recommended for those who enjoyed the wonderful first book in the series, Del Toro Moon.
94 reviews1 follower
August 7, 2022
I am 10 years old, writing from my Dad's account.

This one might be even better than Del Toro Moon. I started yesterday and I finished today. There's more characters that are just as great as Matt and Javier, mostly because they are funny. Matt also gets to hang out with Perry more. This time there's a crazy sorceress and she is not particularly bad, but she is doing bad things to get her sister back.

When dad told me that the third book isn't out yet, I felt okay but I'd be disappointed if Darby Karchut doesn't continue the series.
Profile Image for Colette Sewall.
Author 1 book9 followers
February 7, 2020
When you open the pages of The Red Casket, prepare yourself to saddle up for an action-packed adventure featuring modern day knights taking care of some serious “pest control” problems in Colorado—including one frighteningly evil sorceress. This contemporary fantasy features 12 year old Matt working to sort out his normal family problems along with learning the ropes of his family’s unique business of battling extremely creepy monsters. In addition to magical ancient weapons, we have sassy talking Andalusian horses.

What could be better? Only the sequel--when we find out what happens next!
Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews

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