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Happenstance Found

(The Books of Umber #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  4,518 ratings  ·  345 reviews

Twelve-year-old Happenstance awakens in a cave with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. Soon a mysterious trio arrives to take him away: the explorer Umber, the shy archer Sophie, and Oates, whose strength and honesty are both brutal. Hap and his new acquaintances narrowly escape the cavernous underworld and make their way to Lord Umber's bustling jewel of a
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Aladdin (first published January 5th 2008)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,518 ratings  ·  345 reviews

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Abby Johnson
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blogged
What a pleasant surprise this book was! Action and intriguing characters make for quite a page-turner. The ending resolves nicely, while still pushing readers to seek out the sequels. Hand this one to fans of fantasy adventure like Fablehaven or Pendragon.

Laura (Kyahgirl)
3.5/5; 4 stars; B+

I came across this book in my quest for fantasy stories my 12 year old son might enjoy. I think it would be perfect for that age group but I also think most adults who enjoy fantasy would like this story. Right from the beginning there is danger and adventure and all sorts of unusual magical characters.

I found enough of a hook in the story about Lord Umber, to make me want to read more about this world and find out if he ever gets home.
Lana Krumwiede
A well-crafted story. Strong characters. Good solid world building. Some original ideas for a fantasy. Nothing really blew me away, but it was an excellent read that held my interest. Count me in for book #2.
Austin H
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I felt the book was very original in its storytelling and had a very fast pace to it. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series and finding out what happens to Umber and Happenstance.
Eva Mitnick
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, children
Young Happenstance awakens in a dark cave, not remembering who he is or where he came from. A voice tells him his name - and then a group of explorers discovers him and the sealed note in his pocket. It seems that the owner of the mysterious voice wants Happenstance to go with this group - the dapper and indefatigable Lord Umber, a teenager with a missing hand named Sophie, and a strong man named Oates - and so he does.

Lord Umber is a collector of mysteries, preferably magical ones,
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
P.W.Catanese dazzles in the first of the planned Books of Umber series by wittily subverting genre tropes. Happenstance, a boy with strange green eyes, wakes up in a cave with no memories of who he is or anything about the fantastic world in which he lives. He soon encounters Lord Umber, an adventurer who seems familiar with our world as well as his own, and his two companions-a brute cursed to be forever truthful and a one-handed artist and archer. En route to Umber's home, they discover that H ...more
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
First read date: August 9th, 2009. Best day of my life.
Fourth read date: July 7th, 2012
Fifth read date: October 16th, 2013
Sixth read date: December 3rd, 2015
Seventh read date: July 29th, 2017

Sixth read:

I don't know what I find so enchanting and adoration-worthy about this book. I really don't. The prose is crisp and simple, perfectly suited to the story, but not exceptional. The characters are lovely, beautifully written, but no more so than other characters in oth
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was happily surprised by this book, it was exciting, fresh, and over all fun. I bought it out a whim and then set it on my island where I began to wonder why the heck I got it. I'm not really into this genre (I hated Beyonders) and the cover is just awful. But despite the gaudy design and the annoying double-spaces, I really enjoyed this book.
The characters, who all seem painfully cliché at first, are relatively well-developed and interesting. The villain was one-dimensional, but he served hi
Kino Kino
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's a world building book yes, but I think it is one that is done right. The last world building book I read was The Beyonders by Brandon Mull and though the ending made the flimsy story made sense, the journey was still a little too bland for me. But even if this book is similar with a lot of other books, the unknowing main character that provides exposition, the charismatic leader, the mindless muscle and the shy girl to win over among others, and though similar with other world (or series) b ...more
Teresa Garrett
Happenstance, Hap for short, is found by Lord Umber in a subterranean city buried beneath an active volcano and guarded by a gargantuan worm-type beast. He has no memory of any life prior to being found but little bits of knowledge flow through his mind allowing him to speak and read - in fact he can read and speak several languages. More than anything he wants to know about his past but is worried about his future since he is being hunted by a strange creature known as the "Creep". Lord Umber k ...more
Sandra Evans
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My 12 year old son loved this book. He either loves a book or doesn't read it, so I know this one has to be something special. He basically couldn't put it down for the last 50 pages, so today I felt like Mom of the Year as I walked the streets of the city with him at my side, the only tween for miles around who was endangering fellow pedestrians by walking and reading instead of walking and Pokemon Go-ing. He didn't put it down at lunch, in the doctor's office, or on the long drive home. When h ...more
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
I am not that far into the book, but I am already blown away by the beautiful and simplistic writing and the premise. I love the fantasy world as well, so fun!
Update: I finished the book! What I loved about this book was the mystery- who is Happenstance? That was utterly fascinating! I loved the distinct characters as well. Nothing turns me off more than undistinct characters who you can only tell apart by their names. So, I loved the colorful characters, Umber and Oates and so on. My only
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: AnaLee, Diana, Charity
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
Catanese has created some of the most lovable characters I have encountered in a fantasy! For me, Umber's appeal lies in his uncanny happiness despite his underlying psychological trials, his constant curiosity amid danger, and his amiable appeal to all those he encounters. My other favorites include Oats, with his absolute truth, and Malfor with his compassionate truth. Of course, Hap is a fantastic main character in his quest for identity. Overall, I really enjoyed the action, mystery and ques ...more
Apr 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: adventurous kids
Shelves: fantasy, younger, memory
A boy awakens in darkness, with no memory and no idea where he is. Almost at once he is found by a group of explorers, led by Umber, a man of great inventiveness and curiosity. He has been directed to this island of ruins by an anonymous note, and another note to Umber is found next to Hapenstance. Narrowly escaping the island, they return to the city where Umber dwells as an adviser to the king, but are pursued by a mysterious enemy.

This a creative fantasy and entertaining read. Its main weakn
Oct 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-fiction
Interesting book... There wasn't a whole lot of action in it except at the very end yet it somehow kept me reading. There was no over long descriptive pages, but it was detailed enough for me to get a clear picture of the area. I guess what kept me reading was I was very curious as to who Hap was and what was going on with him. The writer invoked a good sense of mystery with the character without making the reader frustrated about never finding anything solid.
Bill Tillman
What a wonderful kick-off novel to the world of Umber. It all starts in the dark (blindfold). Happenstance wakes on his back on a stone floor, a.mysterious voice tells him to leave the blindfold on. Then three people enter his world, Lord Umber, Oates and Sophie and a mad dash insues, you they are on an island with a volcano starting to blow its top.
Travel the path of Hap (Happenstance) as he discovers who he is, where he is and why he is. Absolutely delightful mid-sized reading.
Elizabeth Bolyard
Phenomenal Read!

The characters and story are as rich as Weaveworld or The Deathgate Cycle. I read this in one sitting and still craved more. You won't be disappointed.
May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
2011-12 Bluebonnet Can't wait until book 2 is out!
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it

A boy named Hap wakes up in a dark room with no memory and absolutely no idea where or who he is. Three people find him in that dark room (which turns out to be an underground maze of some forgotten city) and realize that they had been sent to find him. Lord Umber, a mysterious inventor, brings Hap along with his group back to Kurahaven, the central city of this world. Hap quickly realizes that he is not normal. His eyes are an unusual color and give him night vision, and he can jump extremely h
Jeff Minerd
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised and delighted by this story and its telling. From the start I felt I was in the hands of a skillfull storyteller, and Catanese never dropped the ball. He created wonderful characters in action--Umber, Oates (whom I especially liked), Sophie, Hap of course--and a plot that always moved along at the right pace, never bunching or dragging. Catanese built a world I would very much like to visit, with so much wonderful detail. I want to live in the Eryie!
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
FANTASTIC! I'll be dashing down to the library tomorrow to pick up the second book! Lord Umber is one of my new favorite people.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I remember reading these books when I was ten or eleven, and all I remembered about them going back in was that it was about a magic kid with green eyes and a bipolar inventor-slash-polymath from a different world, and that I’d absolutely loved it. My reread offered up so much that I’d forgotten—the leviathan barge, Oates’ curse, the details of Umber’s background—and also offered up plenty that (no spoilers!) is much easier to spot in a reread. I didn’t love it quite as much as the first time; t ...more
Kayla Loewen
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I wish I could use half stars cause like, I want to know what happens next but it wasn't super great...I liked it, but was also disappointed...but I still want to add this to my book collection...hmm. All in all it was pretty good.
Tales Untangled
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Happenstance Found! I always seem to come back to characters as a main reason for liking a book. This rule hold true here too.

Umber: He is part the bumbling professor, part Pollyanna and part brooding Mr. Darcy. Can you even imagine a person with such diverse characteristics? I wouldn't have thought it possible, but Catanese pulls it off - and it's even logical.

Oates: He is burdened to always tell the truth, though as Umber explains, it doesn't mean he is
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Most fantasy fans
Recommended to ThenSingsMySoul77 by: Goodreads
I found this book to be entertaining and enjoyable. The story was engaging, but elusive. The characters really stole the spotlight though. They were captivating and quirky. Even the most minor characters had something distinctive and amusing about them. Happenstance is one of the main characters and he wakes up in a cave with no memory. He is found by Lord Umber and his companions. They walk out of the cave and things start kicking into gear right about then, as they are attacked by a monstrous ...more
Happenstance, or Hap as he is called, is found by Umber, Oates, and Sophie in a maze of tunnels guarded by a many-legged and -toothed worm. Umber is obviously in charge of the mission to rescue Hap, but Oates' great strength and Sophie's archery abilities certainly help. Unfortunately, they had no idea that the treasure they had sought would be a young boy who had absolutely no memory before the moment he had awakened in the dark chamber from which he was rescued. Hap heard the voice of the one ...more
Pop Bop
Sep 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
A Fantasy Adventure Different

Hey, have you heard this one before? -- A boy with no memory of his past joins a quirky band of wanderers and has exotic adventures while trying to find out more about his own history. Some world saving may be involved.

Well, of course you have. Nothing new here, one initially suspects. But one, (and stop referring to yourself as "one"), would be wrong. This is the fantasy adventure different, and even some pretty hoary old clichés feel fresh a
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The adventures of Happenstance as he happens upon an excentric man named Umber and his crew of skilled adventurers all while trying to uncover the great mystery... What and who in the world is Happenstance?

A very fun romp through a magical world of wonders made even more interesting by Umbers hints at another world he once called home with it's own peculiar brand of magic, technology. Yes, for the fans of DWJ's alternate realities, parallel worlds, The Books of Umber may be somewhat obvious, however, they do h

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Goodreads Librari...: Audiobook: where to put length and abridged info 3 22 Jul 08, 2018 10:22PM  
Monthly Book Club: Happenstance Found [June] 2 11 Jun 17, 2012 11:32AM  

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P.W. (Paul) Catanese is the author of fantasy-adventure novels (published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster). His next novel, DONNY'S INFERNO, a supernatural adventure, will be published in early 2016.

A crisp style, fast pacing, interesting characters and vivid descriptions have made Catanese a favorite with everyone from reluctant readers to teachers to adults seeking a thrilling escape. His books

Other books in the series

The Books of Umber (3 books)
  • Dragon Games (The Books of Umber, #2)
  • The End of Time (The Books of Umber, #3)
“Once an idea is out and about, it can't be called back, silenced or erased. You can't contain it, any more than you could put the head of a dandelion back together after the wind has scattered its seeds.” 16 likes
“The worm hissed. "You said it couldn't see!" shouted Oates, forgetting Umber's instruction to be silent. He shook a fist. "We all heard it, Umber! You specifically said, it couldn't see!"
"I know-isn't it wonderful to learn something new?" Umber laughed.”
More quotes…