Malamander is an illustrated, middle-grade, modern fantasy and it was…well…ok.
Malamander by Thomas Taylor, illustrated by Tom Booth
My Edition: ARC paperback – 290 pages – 2019 – Walker Books – ISBN: 9781536207224 (hardcover)
I won a copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for my honest review.
Herbert Lemon works in the Grand Nautilus Hotel as the Lost-and-Founder, keeping track of missing items and hopefully returning them to their rightful owners. When he meets Violet Parma, he starts an adventure to find her parents, and find out if the mysterious Malamander of lore truly exists!
I was expecting to fall in love with this one, but halfway through I found myself distracted and wondering what book I would read next.
Herbert Lemon (who I kept thinking of as Sherbert Lemon) and Violet Parma (Parmesan) are the only two characters in this book without conveniently nautical-themed names in the seaside town. The names in the book, the magical sea creature, and a randomly talking cat give this book a silly, fun feel.
But towards the end of the story, things take a darker turn. I was left wanting either more silliness, or more darkness. We all know I love dark middle-grade, but I love some goofy stuff too. This just wasn’t the right mix for me. It was a little reminiscent of Warren the 13th, in that there’s an orphan boy in a hotel and lots of whacky characters and monsters. (Is hotel middle-grade a genre, by the way? Because it should be.) But it wasn’t as successful for me.
I think the final version will be lovely to look at though! The cover art is gorgeous and while most of the images were left out of the ARC, there were a couple thrown in to make me sure I enjoy Booth’s art. I like the chapter headings too. There’s even a map in the beginning!
If this book sounds fun, definitely pick it up. I’ll pass on the sequel, assuming there is one, because it just wasn’t for me. But I’d probably read more by Booth in the future.