Title: Malamander (The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea #1)
Author: Thomas Taylor
Illustrations: Thomas Taylor
Cover illustration: George Ermos
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Older Children’s/middle grade fiction, Adventure, Fantasy
Book format: Paperback
Description: In the basement of the Grand Nautilis Hotel, a mysterious girl crashes into Herbie Lemon’s room and cries, “Hide me!”
In the window of the Book Dispensary, a mechanical mermonkey sits and waits.
And out beyond the pier, something stirs. Could the legendary malamander have returned?
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: This is such a brilliant book, I can’t believe how compelling it is to read and how amazing the story is! Herbert Lemon works as the Lost and Founder at the Grand Nautilis Hotel. He usually tries to find the owners of lost luggage, shoes and whatever else people lose, but when a girl rushes through a back window straight into Herbert’s room at the hotel, and later declares herself as lost, he decides to help her find out about her past.
The story is easy to get into right away and from the very first pages I was hooked! Herbert, or Herbie, is a funny character and he agrees to help the girl Violet, who is lost, discover more about her past, but things are a bit strange in the small seaside town of Eerie-on-Sea with strange mechanical mermonkeys, odd book dispensaries, and a strange magical sea mist which seems to hide a creature from legend. As you’ve probably guessed the book has an eerie vibe to it with strange happenings and sightings of this strange monster at night in the town, but the story also has a lot of humour in it and I loved Herbie’s constant narration of events and his jibes at Mr Mollusc as well as the exciting adventure the characters go on. Although the story definitely has a creepy feeling throughout, it’s not too scary for children to read and I’m sure many will really enjoy reading this.
The story has a good and fast pace to it, and you constantly feel on the edge of your seat when reading this. There don’t seem to be any dull moments and even when something is being explained, like the legend of the Malamander, it’s all told in such a way that’s just so compelling to read. Every chapter leaves you desperate to read the next, and there are so many different things happening to the characters, but narrated in such a brilliant way, with a lot of good humour in the right places that I just loved reading this so much. I ended up reading the entire book in one day – it was that good!
There are illustrations inside the book, with a map at the start of the book and chapter header pictures throughout. Each chapter has its own title and I really liked all the pictures inside. Of course it’s not necessary to look at the map, but I couldn’t help but keep referring to it every time the characters went to a new location, I just really loved all the pictures, and they this feel even more interesting and magical to read. I really like the front cover image of the UK edition too, which if you look at it again after reading this book for a while, you’ll recognise it as a scene from one chapter.
The ending is a good one and satisfying, but also sets up the start of what will be a second book in the series. There’s definitely an eerie and exciting feel to the whole adventure but nothing too scary for children to read; and although there are some darker moments where some characters are fighting and chasing others, there’s nothing that older children wouldn’t be used to reading, if they enjoy adventure novels or ones with action in them. It’s a bit of a creepy tale though so if children aren’t used to stories with a crepy vibe then they might feel a bit scared reading this, although the humour in the story definitely makes it easier and takes the edge off the eerieness.
Overall I really can’t believe how much I’ve loved this book! I love adventure stories in general and I’ve always loved strange and eerie tales of legends and creepy happenings. Maybe it’s the seaside town setting with its strange legends or the odd shops like the book dispensary and that mermonkey, but something about this book just felt so brilliant and it was just so engrossing to read, I really couldn’t put it down and I can’t wait for the next book in the series!
Do you enjoy adventure stories or tales of strange legends? What about books that have an eerie vibe to them? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂