Lovers of fantasy won’t be disappointed as Herbie and Violet try to save Eerie-on-Sea again.
Thomas Taylor is an award-winning author-illustrator of children’s picture books and novels. He illustrated the cover of the first Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. His debut novel was Malamander, and Gargantis is the second book in this new series set in the small seaside town of Eerie-on-Sea.
In Gargantis we continue the story of Herbie Lemon and Violet Parma. We find Herbie is still in charge of the Lost-and-Foundery at the Hotel Nautilus, a job he takes very seriously after it was given to him by the owner of the Hotel, Lady Kraken. Violet, Herbie’s best friend, is now living at, and working in the book dispensary, owned by Jenny Hanniver. The book dispensary has a strange mermonkey which dispenses to people the book they need to read. Herbie is naturally wary about asking for another book after the previous one he received.
One day, a strange man in a hood enters the hotel and leaves a clockwork hermit crab at the Lost-and-Foundery. Who is this strange hooded man and what is in the metal box which is always in his hand? Who could possibly own the clockwork hermit crab and how can Herbie find its owner?
In Malamander, Herbie and Violet had to save the town from a strange creature which had been roaming the beach. This time, we discover that Eerie-on-Sea has been in the grip of a violent storm. This storm is strong enough that the homes of the town are disintegrating and the locals are fearful that their town will soon crumble into the sea. They call the storm Gargantis, an old name for storm. One day, Mrs Fossil, owner of the Flotsamporium and a renowned beachcomber, discovers a strange bottle on her morning walk. But who does this bottle belong to and can it change the course of the town’s impending destruction?
Herbie and Violet must again save the town by solving the meaning of an ancient script and return something which has been lost to save the town. Throughout the story we are taken through a gamut of emotions, laughing out loud at some of the town’s characters and being a little bit scared as Herbie and the irrepressible Violet try to save the town. Herbie and Violet are joined in their endeavours by Blaze Westerley, a young fisherman searching for his father.
Thomas Taylor is able to create a beautifully atmospheric town, full of quirky characters with names reminiscent of the sea like: Blaze Westerly, Lady Kraken and Boadicea Bates. We again meet Dr Thalassi who runs the local museum, grumpy Mr Mollusc the hotel manager, and Erwin the talking cat. Eerie-on-Sea is no stranger to the mysterious.
Each chapter heading has a small black and white line drawing giving the reader a glimpse into what is to come. This story is written in the first person through the eyes of Herbie.
Malamander seemed timeless, as does Gargantis, but unfortunately, references to Batman and Scooby Doo bring the reader back to our present with a jolt. Maybe modern references are unnecessary in a fantasy book.
If you enjoyed Malamander you won’t be disappointed in Gargantis. Taylor has managed to create another story which takes the reader on a fantastic adventure. Lovers of the fantasy genre will once again be swept into the world of Herbie and Violet with its interesting characters and a scary, formidable foe. Gargantis is a story with suspense, mystery and heart. Perfect for middle years readers, but can also be enjoyed by teens and adults of all ages.
Reviewed by Sue Mauger
Distributed by: Walker Books Australia
Released: May 2020