Wednesday 17 July 2019

Malamander by Thomas Taylor, reviewed by Dawn Finch

First the blurb…
Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous malamander creep…
Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger...

First off, let me get the gushing out of the way because this book is BRILLIANT! I know people say “I couldn’t put it down,” all the time, but I REALLY COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.
Okay, I’ll calm down now.

Thomas Taylor has such a wonderful way with words and right from the start we feel that Eerie-On-Sea is a very real place. In fact, I completely believe Taylor when he says that we have “probably been to Eerie-On-Sea without ever knowing it.” This means Eerie-On-Sea feels like such a familiar place that we anything that happens there seems possible, and there are some very strange and mysterious things happening.

The characterisation is particularly strong in the novel, and all of the characters are compelling and engaging. Strange things are afoot, and with each punchy chapter (which all have great chapter headings) we creep closer and closer to finding out what’s really going on.

Brilliantly illustrated throughout by Taylor himself (and with a cracking cover by George Ermos) the book is a physically beautiful object too and one that any child would be happy to carry about like a treasure. Malamander is one of those books I loved in school. It is the kind of book I’d have on my desk and the kids would be looking forward to me reading the next chapter so much, that it would repeatedly disappear from my desk. This would read aloud so well, and I was delighted to see that Sony has snapped up the movie rights to the novel in an eight-way bidding war.

The story gently rocks along like a rising tide that creeps up on you, and then sweeps you away. We’re all going to be spending a lot more time in Eerie-On-Sea, and I’ve got my bucket and spade ready!

Malamander by Thomas Taylor is out now from Walker Books

Dawn Finch is a children’s writer and librarian.


1 comment:

Penny Dolan said...

Your enthusiam for Malamander says plenty, Dawn.

Always worthwhile knowing when the reading of a book matches the publicity. Thanks.

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