Goodreads: Malamander (Malamander #1)
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Science Fiction
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…
What a delightful and fantastical read! I haven’t read MG books in a very long time, this might be my second this year, but I’d seen this all over the blogosphere and not only did the cover capture my eye, but the story sounded great too. I’m so glad that I decided to pick this up because it was such a fun read! It’s full of atmosphere, mystery, friendship, danger and perhaps just a little dash of magic–enough at least to make you wonder what’s real or not.
I thought the author did a great job in bringing this story to life. There’s a certain quirky charm that’s present in all the characters and in the town itself. I know this might sound weird but I loved the funny/cute names and how they perfectly fit their character and the building/location they described. The writing was also very atmospheric–at times I swear I could feel the biting winter winds coming off the sea, taste the salt in the air, and I could clearly picture myself standing in the middle of town as it got engulfed by a chilling fog every night. The mystery of the Malamander — was it really real?! — also kept me on my toes and speeding quickly through each chapter. I don’t know why but I always expect that because books are written for a middle grade audience, the ‘scary’ and/or ‘monstrous’ parts of stories wouldn’t be written as frighteningly. I’m always proven wrong with the realness of these characters in MG books! Pretty sure if I read this as a kid I would have never stepped into the ocean ever again 😅
What really won the book for me though were the characters. Even the glimpses of the side characters’ back stories were intriguing. This was told from the perspective of Herbert (“Herbie”) Lemon, resident Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel. He’s a funny, oddly charming and awkward narrator and it was fun to follow along with his telling of the story. There’s also Violet Parma who came to Eerie-on-Sea to learn the truth about her family. My heart really went out to her character’s beginnings, but she was feisty, brave and determined not to let anything (not even a terrifying sea captain with a hook for a hand) get in her way of uncovering what really happened. The strong friendship that formed between Violet and Herbie was truly wonderful to read! There was a purity in the bond between them that gave me all the warm fuzzy feelings thinking back on childhood friendships.
The reason why I took off half a star is because I wanted to know more about certain character histories–like Herbie’s for example! He had a very mysterious arrival to the town as well and I was hoping to learn more about it and was slightly bummed when we didn’t. However, since it’s a series (which I didn’t realise when I started the book), I’m hoping that we not only get to learn more about Herbie, but the other residents of Eerie-on-Sea too! I’m very much looking forward to seeing what other adventures this duo get up to and to return to the town of Eerie-on-Sea once more.
Have you read Malamander or is it on your TBR?