I was completely mesmerised by the wonderfully old-fashioned, timeless quality of this story which had a Victoriana feel, and a truly exceptional cast of characters. The mysterious atmosphere is perfectly realised with the winter setting and rolling sea mist, just perfect for hiding, and revealing, secrets at exactly the right moments.
Herbert Lemon is the Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, and he prides himself on being rather good at his job. However, his life is about to take a rather dramatic turn … when he finds himself face-to-face with a girl who is being chased by an enraged man with a boathook for a hand!
Because I’m lost … and I’d like to be found.
Violet Parma is looking for her lost parents, and she needs Herbie to help find them. They went missing from Eerie-on-Sea, leaving her abandoned as a baby at the hotel 12 years previously. What happened to them? Does their disappearance have anything to do with the legend of the feared Malamander?
Rather reluctantly, Herbie agrees to help solve the mystery … and what an adventure it takes them on. Violet is prescribed a book by the rather creepy Mermonkey at the Book Dispensary which sets them on the trail of the local legend, but they are not the only ones seeking its treasure …
In a place like Eerie-on-Sea, legends can sometimes have a little more … bite.
There is an abundance of tension, danger and fast-paced action as the children race to solve the clues they find before a cast of deliciously nasty characters including Boathook Man, who is much more than he appears, thwart them. I love the fact that the reader is never quite sure who is a friend and who is a foe, as secrets are revealed and more mysteries appear. As they get tantalisingly closer to the truth, I was completely swept into the legend … and willing it to be true. The mixture of present, past and legend fascinated me … and the reveals are just astonishing!
If the impossible is possible anywhere, it’ll be possible in Eerie-on-Sea.
Herbie and Violet are fantastic protagonists who complement each other brilliantly. Herbie’s background is something of a mystery as he was found washed up on the beach in a crate of lemons. He is rather cautious and deliberate in his actions whereas Violet is much more adventurous, feisty and daring. They are both brave and look out for each other, regardless of the danger and fear.
I have to mention the wonder that is the map of Eerie-on Sea and the splendiferous place and character names: Mrs Fossil’s Flotsamporium, The Whelk & Walrus Pub, Lady Kraken, Mr Eels: just brilliant!
Malamander is a truly glorious read which completely hooked me, and reeled me into a world which I definitely want to visit again.