Malamander

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…

This was another of those browsing buys. Looking for something new and the cover of this book caught me right away, nice bright teal, blue and yellow. The feel was good as well, kind of clung to me as if to say buy me, I’m worth it. The page edges etched with a teal and yellow which drew the book together. Now a good cover isn’t always a sign of a good book, however it’s a sign the publishers are behind the author, and that’s a good thing. Opening it finally persuaded me to part with my money, there it was a wonderful map. Note to authors, place a map there and you have my money.

So obviously knowing the publisher and the style of cover, I knew this was aimed at KS2/KS3, what the Americans call middle school. However I still like to read a good adventure story, and don’t believe in rating books for age, a good story is a good story. They’re comforting against the harsh world we live in and light relief. It’s that same old feeling about being lost in another world that takes you back to childhood. However would this volume bring that feeling back to me?

Malamander is exactly the type of story I like. A quaint world that hints of the past but yet what we really hope to find. Eerie on Sea is the type of place you always think you’d like to visit. Set in the winter, there’s no tourists about, just the locals and what a weird and wonderful bunch they are. A touch of magic and expectation is in the air falling like the snow onto the streets. Life is proceeding as usual for Herbie Lemon, the lost and founder of the Grand Nautilus Hotel when into his room drops a girl, Violet. Pursuing her is a strange looking character, seaweed in his beard and a hook for a hand. Then Herbie’s life is turned upside down.

The Malamander, a mythical half fish, half man creature that haunted Eerie on Sea in the past is back to terrorise this sleepy coastal town. It’s a great set of characters and places to explore, but the most interesting has to be the Eerie Book Dispensary. It’s not so much a bookshop or a library, but a chemists giving books rather than drugs (although books for me are like drugs). It issues books according to the whims of a mechanical mermonkey, giving the right book for everyone.

So what about the book? Well it cleverly written, full of action and a story that is brilliantly put together. The author has written a well woven story of high magical fiction. You really feel part of the odd world of Eerie on Sea. You root for Herbie and Vi all the way through as the story heads off at a blistering pace. Fantasy fiction for this age group never got better. Malamander is a real rollicking story that would be enjoyed by anyone. If we didn’t have such a rubbish education system it would be read to classes by teachers as a fun book, not one to endlessly dissect.

The author has a bit of a claim to fame, he did the original cover artwork for Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. A great artist but an even better writer. Should be on every Children’s Book Award list this year. This is a complete book,complete with a well crafted story along with illustrations by the author. Buy this now, you won’t regret it.

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