72. Malamander by Thomas Taylor

This was one of the books I bought while I was supposed to be ‘only browsing’ a couple of weeks ago. It was one of Waterstones monthly features when I bought it and the chap who served me on the till told me that he was currently reading and enjoying it.

Synopsis (as taken from Amazon) is as follows:

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…

Ability to read – I will always come back to children’s books despite being an adult because I find the stories so rich in imagination and full to the brim with excitement, adventure and hope. There is something absolutely unique to a children’s book that you can’t get with any other, it is an untainted adventure just waiting to be read and it plays with your imagination to open you up to a new world. I love the imagination that comes with a children’s book and the way that nothing is out of bounds. The innocence within the imagination is so rewarding to read and you don’t get that in adult novels where there is always an underlining theme or undercurrent that separates you from the hope and adventure. I was so excited to read this book and I had no issue with the language used. It was easy to understand what was happening and be able to recognise the key players and how they acted and presented themselves. The Malamander was shrouded in mystery, and for me became this otherworldly presence that was to be both feared and awed. The language helps to guide you down into the book and the descriptions, details and dialogue make you stay for the story.

Characterisation – Herbie Lemon had hope and longing all rolled into one. He was someone who stuck to the rules and worried a lot in his life. I enjoyed his character immensely and the hope he had to live his life without knowing where he came from was commendable. I enjoyed that fact that this character who stuck to the rules for the most part, was able to come alive and be more spontaneous when paired with Violet. Violet Parma was everything Herbie wasn’t, wild, adventurous and curious. She had come to Eerie-on-Sea with one particular mission and she wasn’t really worried about the consequences of her actions. Seeing Herbie and Violet interact together gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling that kept me routing for their ending. The secondary characters that were brought into the fold of the story each had unique voices and motives. It was interesting to see them interact with Herbie and Violet and as a reader it was interesting to look at them and theorise who was good and who was bad.

Visualisation – It is always so much easier to visualise something that isn’t real. The appearance of the Malamander changed constantly as I moved through the story but always appeared as an ethereal cross between fish and alien. The town of Eerie-on-Sea was fictional but with the details given and the map drawn at the beginning of the book, I was able to construct my own interpretation of it from quite early on. The picture was clear and I could visualise the characters interacting with each other and with the different scenes.

Uniqueness – I haven’t – at least I don’t think I have – read a book recently that included a fish monster. I haven’t read anything about a mysterious seaside town in quite a while either. I liked that this book kept me guessing and that it was rather vague on when it was set. For most of the first half, I thought it was taking place in the Victorian Era just because the way it was written and what was said sounded like it was but I wasn’t disappointed when I realised it was actually set in a more modern time. I think the time of the story is interchangeable and perhaps it was left as vague because it wasn’t that important. I enjoyed all the different characters and Herbie’s view on them regarding the cases he’d taken on. I liked that as the reader I was left to make my own mind up about the characters and that their pasts were revealed slowly, giving me snippets of information without bombarding me. I enjoyed the elements of folklore and how that weaved around Eerie-on-Sea to make for a compelling story. Can you tell I really enjoyed this book? I’d say it was pretty unique in terms of plot and character and I certainly enjoyed reading it.


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