31st March, 2020

Review: Malamander by Thomas Taylor (Walker  Books)

I would like to finish this month with a review of a book I read for #MiddleGradeMarch. Malamander is easily the most interesting children's book I've read in a while. The story is full of weird people, whimsical names and strange happenings, and I adored it! Herbie Lemon is the Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel and everything is "normal" up to the day that a girl appears in his basement office yelling "Hide me!" Welcome to Eerie-on-Sea!

Nobody visits this little town in the wintertime. 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 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...

This book was a complete cover buy for me. I had never heard of it and also didn't know that the author was the illustrator of the first Harry Potter book (the British edition). When I saw it on the bookshop shelf and then read the synopsis, however, I was hooked immediately. And once I started reading, I was in love! 

Thomas' novel is utterly weird, well-paced and so so so imaginative. The two main characters are a wonderful blend of precociousness, charm and typical kid mischief. I loved how the author plays with words and names, and Eerie-on-Sea was simply a delightfully perfect setting for all the magic and mystery that is going on. The story was marvelously devised, it was engaging - the climax, for example, had me completely engrossed -, and it made me hungry for more so that I already preordered part two of the series. Malamander has enough hint of menace to give you goosebumps but not so much that you'd have to hide underneath the covers (after all, it's still a Middle Grade book). If you are looking for a quick, suspenseful and captivating read, I highly recommend you read this. 

Rating: 5/5 stars

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