Malamander, by Thomas Taylor
Every now and again, I come across a real cracker of a book. I was reading something else for Book of the Month, but tossed that aside to read Malamander, by Thomas Taylor. I’m so pleased I did, because this has that magic about it - that sense of the outlandish that seemed to fill children’s books a while back. It’s clear that it has been thought-through rather than just banged out on a word-processor (like the other one I was reading). This story has been crafted.
The setting is Eerie-on Sea. Like most English seaside towns, it’s a dead place in the off-season. The Grand Nautilus Hotel is owned by Herbert Lemon (Herbie). He’s the Lost-and-Founder there; someone who reunites people with their lost things. He passes the winter months solving mysteries, but he has never had to solve a mystery like this.
Twelve-year-old Violet Parma arrives at the hotel. She is on a mission to find her lost parents. They disappeared in deeply mysterious circumstances twelve years before (coincidence? perhaps!). Violet hires Herbie to help find them, but this is Eerie-on-Sea and it is a strange, enigmatic place... especially on the flood tide. It is a place of legends and strange happenings. It is full of the quirky and odd. Things come from the sea - and then there’s the chilling tale of the Malamander...
This is a lesson in how to create mood through atmosphere. I loved it from beginning to end. It does have a hint of the Neil Gaiman in it, so it could be a little scary in places for younger readers with an advanced reading age. However, for boys and girls of 10+, it’s great. If they’ve read the Explorer by Katherine Rundell and you’re looking for something else to enthuse them - then go for this!
We give this a Yellowbird rating of 5 out of 5!