MALAMANDER, by Thomas Taylor;  

An Adventure Book Review by Erin the Cat Princess©

This week we are decidedly pleased to bring you an eerie review of the first book in one of our favourite series. Malamander is the book’s name, and it is quite different from anything we have reviewed before. This just goes to show how diverse Middle-Grade reads can be! 

But first, back by popular demand is……. 

The UMM VILLAGE NEWS. Delivered hands-free online. This edition is kindly sponsored by Mrs Singh’s Home Delivery Service called ‘Jumbo Eats’ – Free lifesize banana and joyride on Jumbo with each kids meal! (no liability is accepted for trampled flowerbeds and feet, or dented cars!)

On the Frontpage. 

News that a new type of Corona shot was available in the village started circulating yesterday afternoon. By evening, the village hospital was besieged by crowds of drinkers from the Pied Sparrow Public House. It later turned out that they thought the free shot was of Corona Beer. The evening wasn’t entirely wasted as the nursing staff managed to inoculate everyone for Flu, TB, MMR, Tetanus and Shingles!

In the Sports News. 

The UMM Ladies Darts team scored a decisive win against the ladies from Much Deeping-Hollow. The final score included five bulls (none of whom needed veterinary care), 107 doubles and 96.5 trebles (paid for by the losing team). Sundry other items including one foot, two knees, a pierced nose and the picture of the late Duke of East Lambtonshire, Ferdinand the Lesser!

In the Wanted Column. 

This week sees a request for items of bric-a-brac for the Scouts and Guides Winter Fair. It is very last minute as the various prizes donated by two passing gentlemen of the racoon persuasion were later removed as evidence by the police. 

The vicar has advised that he is still looking for small girls and boys to play rats in the Dick Whittington Pantomime this year. I had offered to supply the same, slightly dented, for a small consideration, but it seems like my offer met with some concern. Something about equity rights for the rats??? 

And finally. . . .

In Breaking NEWS: 

Racoon X and Racoon Y are now in custody! In their defence, they have asked for various other offences to be taken into consideration. These included the theft of the hairdryers and several hundred meters of hosepipe stollen from the local allotment gardens, which they sold to Mrs Singh to build her sheep-based car wash. 

When asked to comment, Mrs Singh said that she had been well and truly fleeced by the two. In a big-hearted show of goodwill and to make amends, all customers of the hairdressers will now receive a complimentary Authentic Indian Cornish Pastie with their next appointment. As for the allotment owners, Mrs Singh has arranged for Jumbo to leave various packages for them to use to improve their soil.

OK, with the news and small ads sorted, let’s get on with the review!

Malamander. By Thomas Taylor

MALAMANDER, by THOMAS TAYLOR

Published by WALKER BOOKS LIMITED.

Cover artwork by GEORGE ERMOS 

Interior Illustrations by Thomas Taylor

Export Paperback ISBN: 978 – 1 – 4063 – 9302 – 6 

Trade paperback ISBN: 978 – 1 – 4063 – 8620 -8

Exclusive paperback ISBN: 978 – 1 – 4063 – 9303 – 3

Cover price for Paperback £7.99 (or cheaper)

Pages 302.

Age range: 8 and upwards

Any cats? YES, one, called Erwin, and he talks too!

The Plot: 

Our story this week is set in the seaside town of Eerie-on-Sea. It is the sort of small seaside resort that many of us will have visited. The kind of place we’d look around and forget once we have driven away from our week-long summer stay or one day visit. However, once winter comes and the tourists leave, the true Eerie emerges. The sailors take back their favourite pubs and haunts. Gone are the touristy tables and bunting, and in rolls the fog, gloom and mystery that goes with a damp cold seaside town.

The adventure features Herbert Lemon, Herbie to his pals. Five years ago, he was washed up on Eerie beach on a crate of lemons. With no knowledge of who he was or how he came to be as he was, he was given the name Herbert Lemon. And in Eerie-on-Sea he stayed. Now, five years on and aged twelve ish, he has the job of Lost and Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel. He has a cellar room to himself and manages all the Lost and Found items that get handed in. The hotel’s ancient and reclusive owner, Lady Kraken, gave him the job of seeing something special in his eyes. However, the hotel’s windbag of a manager, Mr Mollusc, really doesn’t like anything that doesn’t earn its keep or smooth the hotel’s running. Herbie, of course, doesn’t fall in either category, so he is at loggerheads with Mr Mollusc.

All that intro aside, our adventure starts when a girl drops through the small pavement level window and into Herbie’s life and cellar. Violet Parma is her name, and, like Herbie, she is an orphan. Well, not quite. It seems twelve years earlier, her parents vanished whilst staying in the same hotel. Their shoes were found on the harbour wall, and they had gone. Twelve years on, Violet has come to try and find out what has happened to her missing, presumed dead parents. 

Now, that really is a can of worms she’s opened. No sooner than she has arrived than a ghastly, sodden boathook-handed sailor arrives at the hotel and tears apart the Lost and Found room in search of the girl. Herbie, naturally enough, is not sure about his new guest. But very soon, they are both on the hunt for clues as to Violet’s parents fate. Now, if that was all there was to it, well, I’d not be here telling you how good the story was. It seems that Eerie on Sea is packed to the brim with legends. One speaks of the Malamander, a half-human half-fish that stalks the beach in winter when the mists and fog are in. Wails can be heard, attributed to the beast. The locals won’t use the beach at night in winter. But the sceptics say it is the wind whistling through the hulking remains of the Leviathan, a sunk battleship just out from Eerie and that can be walked to at low tide.

Stuff and nonsense, I hear a lady say from the cosiness of her fireside deep in the English countryside. But is it? When local Professional Beechcomeber and owner of the town’s Flotsamporium gets attacked by some sharp-toothed sea-creature on the beech one evening, the tide of doubt shifts. The Malamander legend appears to be more than a fairytale to keep kids off the beach!

It soon transpires, a connection between Violet’s father, Peter, and this beast. Worse, though, there is some sort of connection between Peter and the local and smarmy writer called Sebastian Eels, who really didn’t get on with Peter but for some reason now seeks his draft book.

The more Violet drags our unwilling Herbie into this investigation, the more dangerous it gets for them both, from land and sea!

Now, I have told you really as much as I can. Suffice to say, things go from bad to worse, and I do not mean the weather forecast! As the final chapters draw us into this wonderful adventure, the clues, people, and the monsters – myth or otherwise, converge for the grand finale!

Before I conclude, I need to add that Eerie-on-Sea has more unusual delights for the reader. There is a Mermonkey and a rather handsome cat called Erwin. Yes, he talks and can be pretty helpful too. But he is not like Oswin from the Willow Moss books we reviewed recently (Link to review of the third book HERE). He is more your contemplative cat who adds his advice when he feels. 

As an aside, an author once dismissed a character I wrote, saying something along the lines of ‘Come on, a talking cat? Don’t be silly!’ Now I don’t know about you, but the adventure makes a better read, and an entirely natural one too, with a talking cat or dog. A view that was shared by a publishing agent I spoke to. 

So, what did we think?

Basically, we both LOVED this story. The adventure captured both our imaginations and was so different from anything we had read to date. It is a first-person story told by the lead character, Herbert Lemon. We loved the mix of characters that the author has built around Herbert, be they the windbag of a hotel manager, Mr Mollousc, and the hotel’s owner, the reclusive Lady Kraken. Equally as fun are the characters in the town, like Mrs Fossil, the beachcomber, and Dr Thalassi, the town’s Doctor and museum keeper. 

They really do all work together so well, and quite naturally. None are overbearing but play nicely on positions they hold. As to the villains, well, they come in various shapes and sizes, and like the best of stories, not all is as it seems. I like that about this book. It unfolds as all the BEST books should, carrying the imagination and us along with it. Nothing about this was overpowering or underwhelming. It was exciting, slightly tongue in cheek, and wholly entertaining. And yes, just a bit eerie too!

Even better for us kids and cats is a website dedicated to the stories. This can be found via this LINK  OR by cutting and pasting this address https://eerie-on-sea.com/

I genuinely hope that I have been able to help you get a feel of what was going on. And, if you get a chance, you get to enjoy this read too.

So . . . . 

Crunch time. 

There really are no downsides to this book. Whilst set in what I have come to think of as a quintessential small-town British seaside resort, I think the setting and characters will relate to a global audience. The author did the inside artwork, which adds a little extra seasoning to the story. It is, just right, an essence of the sea and Eerie-on-Sea! 

So, an unreserved success in our book. I have books two and three by my side as I sleep . . . I meant, as I labour on this review, and will be reviewing book two next time. We will review book three as our first book of 2022, all being well.

Want to buy a copy?

This salty seaside adventure can be yours if you take a stroll down to your local independent bookshop. No flip-flops, suncream or sunhats are required. 

Thomas Taylor’s web page can be found HERE. http://www.thomastaylor-author.com/

 Walker Books web page can be found HERE. https://www.walker.co.uk/

If any authors, publishers or agents wish us to review their books, please do get in touch. Details are listed on our book review page.

Till laters!

ERin

Author: Erin, the Literary Cat.

I'm an ND, neurodivergent, Middle Grade fiction writer and book blogger. Erin also happens to be my feline companion, who loves nothing more than to wile away her time listening to all the stories I read to her. Together, we share our own adventures, and those of our fellow Middle Grade writers who enlighten the lives of young, and older, everywhere!

12 thoughts on “MALAMANDER, by Thomas Taylor;  ”

  1. Sounds like the raccoons were quite a problem. They always think they can get away with stuff because they’re cute. Purrs, Snoops and Kommando Kitty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For a tiny village we certainly have a lot of funny things happen. Just as well there’s normal folk like me and Mrs H . . . . like ME around, MOL
      Hopefully you have a great work session. Maybe you can have some extra headlines to add to your own village newspaper 😉
      Purrs
      ERin

      Like

  2. Lots going on in your neck of the woods. Our Dad got his Covid booster (3rd shot) yesterday and it sure wiped him out. Cool book and a cool cover too sweet Princess!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it seems to pour funny stuff in the UMM area, MOL
      Mrs H had her third shot too, along with a third sherry I may add. Had a mild fever took a few hours later on. After a couple of Ibuprophen tablets and a paracetamol, she was OK by the following morning, if a little tired. Now, she zipping around the kitchen making breakfast. Works just like it says on the label. Thank goodness for vaccines is all we can say.
      ERin

      Like

  3. Malamander soundss like amost suitabell book fore a sirtain BellaDita Mum to reed!! )
    Sorry mee late to commint; a sirtain Mum was not well an furgot to come back so mee cuud meow to you ERin. Shee apawlogizess fore her over site!
    **nose rubss** BellaDharma an ❤ BellaSita Mum

    Liked by 1 person

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