I've talked about Charlie Bone before, but now I've finished all the books that are out so I thought I'd do a little more on the series.
I enjoy Charlie Bone. He is a good kid who is insanely curious and has a moral code that he cannot lay aside for anything. He is very brave and tries to do the right thing. I say "tries" because he often rushes headlong into situations without much thought and his friends have to save him. It's nice that Charlie doesn't have the most powerful endowment or the most showy. It makes him easier to identify with although it can be a little annoying for his friends to always have to show up to save him. But he is the kind of boy who inspires loyalty in others since he is extremely loyal to his friends and family.
Warning: spoilers if you haven't read these.
From Midnight for Charlie Bone through Charlie Bone and the Shadow, Charlie's adventures start small and the grand arch slowly comes out. In the beginning, he can just hear pictures talk and move and in the end he can go physically into photos and paintings and, of course, this leads to trouble. The grand arch in the first five books the grand arc is really about where Charlie's father is and Bloors and the evil they are creating. But Charlie's father is found then he and Charlie's mother are whisked off screen so Charlie can continue his adventures without parental interference. I was disappointed by this plot device since I wanted to see Charlie and his father together. However, I recognize it as a standard trope and may help the new overarching plot. It remains to be since the upcoming Red Knight is the last book in the series.
The Bloors have been replaced as the main villains by Count Harken, the Shadow of Badlock. He has abducted poor Billy Raven into his world and enchanted him so he doesn't want to leave. At the end of the Shadow he is still in the painting and Charlie has to figure out how to save him. Like the Bloor, Count Harken is not that scary to me. He seems almost minor. Charlie and his friends defeated him easily in the Hidden King and I don't think they will have to hard a time in the Red Knight.
My big gripe is the change is narrators. I hate when a book series changes narrators in the middle. Simon Russell Beale narrates the first five books (which were originally intended to be all of the Charlie Bone-centric books) and does an excellent job. I really liked his characterizations and reading. But Simon Jones takes over at Beast and the following books. At first, I was not happy since I had to learn new voices and mannerisms for the characters. But once I got past my initial resistance, I like his version too. He was really great as the narrator of the Bartimaeus Trilogy and Millions.
(Just a side note as an example: I really hated the change in the Series of Unfortunate Events from Tim Curry to Daniel Handler and back. Tim Curry should NEVER be replaced with anyone. He's freaking Tim Curry, he will do a better job any day; especially for a Gothic series like that.)