I for one, can’t wait for the next two books in this trilogy.
Thomas Taylor is an award-winning author-illustrator of children’s books. He illustrated the cover of the first Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. This is his first novel in a new trilogy.
Malamander is a fantasy novel set in the mythical small town of Eerie-on-Sea. It is winter and the fog has set in. Nobody ever visits this cold and wet town in winter but one day a girl called Violet turns up. She climbs through the basement window of the Grand Nautilus Hotel and into the world of Herbie Lemon. Herbie is the head of Lost and Found at the hotel and Violet needs help finding something.
The town is full of wonderfully quirky characters. There is Mrs Fossil who loves to beachcomb, Dr Thalassi who runs the local museum, grumpy Mr Mollusc the Hotel manager, and Jenny Hanniver who runs the local bookshop where you can’t choose a book, it is chosen for you, whether you like it or not. There are also those characters who you wouldn’t want to run into on a dark night, the large and scary boathook man being one of them. Who is he and what happened to his hand? Why is he chasing Violet? These and other questions are just some of the many to be asked as we follow the story of Violet and Herbie.
There are legends in the town of a strange beast called the Malamander which has been seen roaming the beach in mid-winter. As the children search for answers to Violet’s questions, everything keeps pointing towards the legendary Malamander.
This story is written in the first person through the eyes of Herbie. Herbie has his own Lost and Found story as he does not know who his parents are because he was found on the beach in a box of lemons. Can he become the detective Violet needs to help solve her mystery?
Malamander is full of atmosphere and Taylor intertwines the mystery with evocative descriptions of the wet and wild weather in Eerie-on-Sea. This story has everything a middle years lover of fantasy could wish for: loveable characters, a scary formidable foe, moments of wonder, and a fantastic adventure. It is hard to put this book down as it draws you in. I think it has all the ingredients to become a staple on the bookshelves of teen readers.
Taylor, as well as being an intuitive writer, is also a talented illustrator and his small black and white illustrations are dotted throughout the book.
Taylor’s exciting story and lovable characters have certainly set the scene for the next two books in the series and I for one, can’t wait to follow the adventures of Violet and Herbie.
Reviewed by Sue Mauger
Distributed by: Walker Books Australia
Released: May 2019