by Thomas Taylor;
An Adventure Book Review by Erin the Cat Princess©
Hello, and welcome to my Saturday Book Review featuring Adventures in Middle-Grade Fiction!
It also happens to be the first review of the year. Hopefuly the first of many. The picture below is of yours truly taking a pre, New Years eve nap. Just to get my strength up for the post New Years day nap!
This week, now I’m fully rested up, we have the great pleasure to review the spooktacular third book set in Eerie on Sea, starring Herbert Lemon, Violet Parma, and Erwin, the cat.
So without further ado, and kindly sponsored this week by Mrs Singhs Mobile Book Bank (Cheques cashed free of charge and a free Onion Bhaji with every tenth loan) we bring you . . .
SHADOWGHAST, the third Eerie-on-Sea adventure, written by a true wordsmith of a middle-grade writing, Thomas Taylor!
SHADOWGHAST, by THOMAS TAYLOR
Published by WALKER BOOKS LIMITED.
Cover artwork by GEORGE ERMOS
Interior Illustrations by Thomas Taylor
Paperback ISBN: 978 – 1 – 4063 – 8630 – 1
Cover price for Paperback £7.99 (or cheaper)
Age range: 8 and upwards
Any cats? YES, one, called Erwin, and he talks too!
As ever, to review book three in this series, we need to reveal little bits and pieces of the first two books. So, please do look away if you wish to keep it a surprise.
You can follow the link below to see my review of the first adventure.
With the evil Sebastian Eels dispatched to the depths of the oceans, never to return, things at the Grand Nautilus Hotel and Eerie-on-Sea had returned to normal. Or at least as normal as they ever get. It is Lady Kraken’s birthday, and the staff all get a big slap-up breakfast on her. Or at least some do. When everyone else has taken their fill, our hero, Herbie Lemon, gets nothing.
While he watches on with hope, a lady’s voice whispers in his ear that this year things will be different. Turning, he sees the lady walking towards the elevator. He is captivated by her clothes and hair. More than that, he is intrigued by the people that accompany her. He later finds out that they are two mime artists and her manager. But as he takes it all in, there is something not quite right. Is it the shadows or how the light falls upon the four through the windows?
Now, let’s move on to what you all really want to know about the Shadowghast, right?
The celebration of the Ghastly Night is unique to Eerie-on-Sea and happens when others celebrate All Hallows Eve. That tale starts long ago, back in the 1800s, when the town’s mayor, Standing Bigley, built the pier. He was a mean man and devoted to the profit he would make from the visitors to the pier’s theatre.
As the pier neared completion, he needed to keep the investors sweet. But where oh where could he get a performer at short notice.
As luck would have it, or rather it wouldn’t, at that very time, a stranger in his boat is saved from the strong currents out by Maw Rocks, and brought ashore. What is strange about the stranger, even by Eerie standards, is that he has a heavy lantern in the shape of a dragon. When asked who he is, the tatty man declares he is the Puppet Master, and the lantern is magical.
Who better to put an opening night display and get the paying customers in, the mayor thinks, and so he asks the stranger for his price. Five gold coins were the stranger’s fee for a show that would be worth every bit. Of course, you and I can guess that this did not go down well with the tight Mr Bigley. Two was all he offered the man, and it had better be good. The puppet master was not amused, less so than Queen Victoria, and promised the mayor that “may you get what you pay for.”
The time of the show came, and it was fabulous. The puppet master manipulated the shadows that he cast in the smoke from his magic lantern into all manner of shapes and beasts, Gargantis and the Malamander amongst them. There is one shadow in the lantern that isn’t by the puppet masters creation, the shadowghast!
But Bagley gave only one gold coin when payment was due, stating shadows were only worth half the fee. The puppet master’s revenge was to use the shadowghast to take Bagley’s shadow, quite literally. And once he had his shadow, he became master of the man himself. In the furore that followed, the pier caught fire, and the puppet master and his lantern were lost to the sea, never to be seen again. But forever after, a curse was on the town.
And thus, the legend of the Shadowghast was born. And each Ghastly Night, you will need to light a Manglewick candle to keep the shadow-stealing spirit away.
Of course, this all seems but by-the-by for Herbie, who is about to discover two things. First, the lady is none other than the world-famous magician, Caliastra. Second, she is his aunt, who has come to take him off to his new life as her apprentice.
Whoa, that is quite a bombshell to drop on Herbie. As it happens, it is an even bigger bombshell for Violet, who hoped she would find her parents first. Animosity rears its head. But when people start vanishing from Eerie, Herbie and Violet join forces, albeit reluctantly, to solve a Ghastly Night adventure that lives up to its name! There is more than townsfolk at risk here; there is friendship and newfound family. Hard decisions will need to be made, and demons fought. Will Herbie get to have a family? More importantly, will he ever get to have any of that breakfast?
All this and far more will rise again from the depths of Eerie-on-Sea legend.
So, what did we think?
When adventures like this keep getting better and better, we have to sit back and admire the writer’s originality and style.
This book really was a great adventure and spooky ride from beginning to end. And it really did keep us going to the very last pages, even though our cocoa was going cold.
With some lovely twists and characters that you can just reach into the pages and either shake a fist at or shout out support to, like “Look out, it’s behind you!” then you know you’re on to a winner. I got so gripped by the adventure, at one point I felt I was lost with Herbie in the dark and could feel the breeze on my face and see the candle splutter. Mrs H ruined all that by putting on my bedside light and shutting the window which had blown open! That said, it was still very atmospheric, chilling in an excellent middle grade fashion, that left us wanting rooms at the Grand Nautilus!
Now I haven’t thus far mentioned Erwin the cat. Fear not, dear feline fanciers, he plays an important roll in this adventure. Quite the hero too. Smokin’ one might say!
So . . . .
Without a doubt, Mr Taylor has created another little masterpiece set in Eerie-on-Sea. Buy this for you or the adults in your life and enjoy a few nights of absorbing mystery. But beware the Shadowghast, heed the warnings else it may steal your shadow too!
There you have it. Well, not quite. At the back of book three is an intro chapter for book 4, called FESTERGRIMM. I don’t know about you, but that sounds way too interesting and exciting to pass up.
Want to buy a copy?
To get a copy, complete with a shadow attached, please do head to your local independent bookshop, during daylight hours, of course!!!!!
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.