Sunday, 3 September 2023

MERMEDUSA

 by THOMAS TAYLOR;  

Small book cover. The Jaunty Spark fishing boat, painted red with its wind turbine mast and monster tusk on the prow, is on the high seas near the Eerie lighthouse. The lighthouse is to the left, and a large rock points up to the right with the boat in between. The Mermedusa is seen as a pale grey-blue image against a yellowing sky, without detail. Its hair radiates outward like tendrils. Violet stands pointing to the right as viewed, and Herbie looks aghast to the left at the monster whose blurred image we can see beneath the surface of the water. The ocean is a blur of greens, blues and grey. The sky is a wavy blue and yellowy green. Mermedusa is written in white capitals over the boat. The author's name appears. at the bottom of the page in white, and "An Eerie-on-Sea mystery" is along the top of the book – yellow writing on a blue background.
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An Adventure Book Review by Erin the Literary Cat©, International Book Reviewer.

Hello, and welcome to my weekend Book Review featuring Adventures in Middle-Grade Fiction.
 
This week, we have a real wonder of a book. An adventure that necessitated tons of research: mainly fish and chips, ice cream and candyfloss on a day out to the beach.
 
OK, OK, as we don't actually have a beach nearby, Mrs H set up a paddling pool in the living room and filled it with sand and salted water. She then tied a hanky around her head, and we pretended it was sunny under a 100-watt light bulb bought especially for the day. No expense spared! What we can't work out is where the donkey, high tide and the crabs came from!  

But enough of my seaside ramblings, let's get on with the review. If you here for a selfie, scroll on down at your peril!

 

Large book cover. The Jaunty Spark fishing boat, painted red with its wind turbine mast and monster tusk on the prow, is on the high seas near the Eerie lighthouse. The lighthouse is to the left, and a large rock points up to the right with the boat in between. The Mermedusa is seen as a pale grey-blue image against a yellowing sky, without detail. Its hair radiates outward like tendrils. Violet stands pointing to the right as viewed, and Herbie looks aghast to the left at the monster whose blurred image we can see beneath the surface of the water. The ocean is a blur of greens, blues and grey. The sky is a wavy blue and yellowy green. Mermedusa is written in white capitals over the boat. The author's name appears. at the bottom of the page in white, and "An Eerie-on-Sea mystery" is along the top of the book – yellow writing on a blue background.
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Author and interior art by:  Thomas Taylor

 

Cover art by:  George Ermos

 

Published by: Walker Books

 

Publication date of Paperback: 7th September 2023

 

Paperback ISBN:   978 - 1529 502 138

 

Cover price for the Paperback £7.99

 

Pages: 336

 

Age range: Kids of all ages from 9 and UPWARDS.


Any dogs or cats?  Oh YES!  The much-loved talking feline character, Erwin, is all aboard for the rollercoaster of an adventure.


 

 

SPOILER ALERT


Yes. As this is the conclusion of the series, there will be references to characters, plot and direction, both past and present. In fact, the brilliant cover by George Ermos is a huge giveaway, so I'll say no more about that πŸ˜‰.

 


Thank you to... 

 

We are exceedingly grateful to Thomas Taylor, and Walker Books for giving us an electronic ARC to Read & Review this much-anticipated book before publication. All artwork is reproduced by kind permission of the author himself.


As ever, our views are our own, and we only share reviews of books we have bought, been given as gifts, or received in exchange for an impartial review. 



First and foremost, we read for pleasure, and the books we review are those we love and feel our global readers deserve to know about and that we hope they, their children, friends and students will enjoy.


Please follow the links below to get the lowdown on the first four hugely successful and thoroughly entertaining adventures. 


To get the best from Mermedusa, we strongly recommend reading books one to four first. If you do, so much will fall into place, and these five stories' true strength and sheer brilliance will shine through in a way that Harry Potter never really did for us.

 

Book 1: MALAMANDER.  Read the Review HERE. 

 

Book 2: GARGANTIS.  Read the Review HERE.  


BOOK 3: SHADOWGHAST.  Read the Review HERE.  

 

Book 4. FESTERGRIMM.  Read the Review HERE. 


***** Give away! ***** 

 

Hang on a mo! Mrs H has dug five fathoms deep into her mysteriously capacious handbag and, snatching her purse from the jaws of a rather murderous Scottish lobster, agreed to buy from her pension and give away to one lucky commenter on this week's blog a selection of the stories. The comments will be left open for one week after this post appears, and commenters (who can't be anonymous for obvious reasons) must be able to supply their address and be in an area covered by Amazon. 


 

So join Mrs H and me for the final time as we head into the Lost and Founders room in the basement under the Grand Nautilus Hotel in Eerie-on-Sea. It is two days before mid-winter, and the tourists have gone. It is the time of year when the Malamander stalks the foggy beach at night . . . ..

 

 

The plot


Herbie Lemon, the hotel's Lost and Founder, stands lost in thought at the bottom of his stairs. In his hand is a stopped and scuffed watch handed into his desk moments earlier, found by a staff member behind a radiator. The hands point to midnight, or so Violet Parmar says, to the moment when some terrible crime befell it and its owner. But why could it not be midday, Herbie asks. 


In any event, they have an appointment on the beach to accompany three Americans — co-hosts and sound and camera recordist — from the podcasters 'Anomolous Phenomena'. They intend to visit the area and discover more about the Eerie's hitherto little-heard-of monsters, the Malamander being but one, proving or disproving their existence in front of a camera. The trio comprise Professsor Newtiss (the alleged believer), Angela Song (the sceptic) and the sound recordist and video guy (whom Herbie names Fluffy Mike). Of course, it is the time of year when the Malamander's howls can be heard from the wreck out to sea, and it stalks the beach at Eerie, looking for its companion and mate. It is a time when the locals steer clear for fear of what it might do to them in the winter fog that descends. 


The foolhardy podcasters head out across the sands at low tide and towards the wreck, which we, the readers and Herbie, feel will end badly – and it does with a narrow escape for the cameraman. Enter Sebastian Eels, Eerie-on-Sea's villain personified. Yet strangely, he saves the Fluffy Mike from an untimely demise, then stalks back to the town, but before issuing a dire warning to them all. What was he doing out there? These thoughts are forgotten when a howl from the fog drives the party back to shore and a fish and chip supper. And it is there that the professor reveals there is one real monster in Eerie – Sebastian Eels! The Prof wants Violet and Herbie to dig around and get information about his past, precisely what the words on a slip of paper mean. In exchange, he promises to give Herbie details about his past and who he is and give Violet information about her missing parents. They accept the offer.

 

When our two protagonists are safely in Herbie's room, they read the piece of paper, which they think has come from Eels' diary. It says: "When I was only twelve years old, I sold my soul for Kraken gold."


Now, that sets the scene for what happens next. Well almost. Whilst Herbie, Violet and a deathly sickly Erwin are contemplating what these words might mean, they feel the building vibrate. Not only that, they soon feel it in their skulls, and poorly Erwin is writhing in agony. Just as they are about to pass out, the sound stops. When Erwin tries to flee the room through the window, he turns and bolts the other way, wide-eyed and fur-spiked in fear of what is outside. Flicking on their torch, a monstrous shrieking rattles the windows, sending a monster crashing away. 

 

Giving pursuit to the fearsome Malamander is not high on Herbie's to-do list, but Violet is off and running, so he has to go along. It is a chase that follows a trail of destruction and screams around Eerie and back to the hotel.

 

This is where things definitely dial up many notches on the Eerie fear scale. And thus where the story launches into a whole new world, or worlds, of adventure that entails . . . . but let's not ruin things for you. 

 

What I will say is that it tests our main character to the limit. It makes complete sense of all the eerie goings on from the previous books that have happened over the space of not only the year since Violet arrived into Herbie's life but decades, nay centuries, before. Mysteries that culminate in the deepest, darkest of Eerie-on-Sea's secrets. The secret that Eels himself has been seeking for years and robbed, and some say, killed for.

 

There will be tears, that I promise. There will be catastrophe, loss, and revelations of past evil doings, and not just those of Sebastian Eels. However, we get a whole new look at what makes this rogue tick and how he and Mr Mollusc are linked. Both are quite a surprise.


Surrounded by monsters, when things are at their darkest, and everything is lost, can anyone, let alone Herbie, survive the night? That, dear readers, is for you all to enjoy and find out. 

 


So, what did we think?

 

I suspect this series will have been described as weird, off the wall, or similar. We have never seen it that way. It is different yet comfortably familiar, or should I say eerily familiar. We can look at churning waters, at wrecks and ageing barnacled piers with their fish and chips shops, and closed amusement arcades at the end and immediately see and thus enter Herbie's world. How many of us have wondered what monsters, manmade or otherwise, lurk beneath the waves, in the shadows of an abandoned waxworks museum, or stalk through the foggy streets at night in search of unwary folk daft enough to be out late? 

 

That, to us, is literary gold, the magic that radiates from within the best set up books. 

 

Herbie's first-person narration is a delight, funny and really engaging. As a character, he has always been at the brunt of things, the underdog to Violet's brash, sometimes wayward enthusiasm. He is overly cautious and the butt end of others' ire and dislike without knowing why. It was lovely to see how he didn't suddenly change in this last story. But he does learn and, in his own way, step up even when he doesn't want to and, for better or worse, make decisions. 


This final adventure takes us all around Eerie. We venture underground, over, into and under the sea. Chases abound, as do monsters and the perils. This is nicely balanced by emotional revelations from past and present. It is hard to recall a moment when we weren't entirely absorbed. 

 

Mrs H and I are lucky enough to read some of the best-of-the-best books out there for our own pleasure and to share with you and prospective buyers around the globe. This closing adventure is, without a doubt, the highlight of our year. 

 


So . . . Crunch time. 

 

Make no mistake, this is a powerful, no-holds-barred tour de force of a conclusion. Everything comes together flawlessly and spectacularly. Nothing is half-hearted. Thomas really has poured his soul into this; that much is evident. 

 

He told me it was tough to write for various reasons. I can believe it with what has been woven together in this finale and the emotionally touching undercurrents and conclusion. 


So, middle-grade adventure or not, you'll not find a better read out there now. And, if you ever wanted to assemble a cast of characters, monsters, villains and heroes, there are none finer, more entertaining, and more frightening than those in Eerie-on-Sea. 


Small book cover. The Jaunty Spark fishing boat, painted red with its wind turbine mast and monster tusk on the prow, is on the high seas near the Eerie lighthouse. The lighthouse is to the left, and a large rock points up to the right with the boat in between. The Mermedusa is seen as a pale grey-blue image against a yellowing sky, without detail. Its hair radiates outward like tendrils. Violet stands pointing to the right as viewed, and Herbie looks aghast to the left at the monster whose blurred image we can see beneath the surface of the water. The ocean is a blur of greens, blues and grey. The sky is a wavy blue and yellowy green. Mermedusa is written in white capitals over the boat. The author's name appears. at the bottom of the page in white, and "An Eerie-on-Sea mystery" is along the top of the book – yellow writing on a blue background.

 


Want to buy a copy?


To get a copy of this book or the series, please head across the shingle down to your local independent bookshop, dodging gulls, Malamanda and creepy guys named Eels. Fish and chips after your purchase are optional, but we think they are an absolute MUST after any visit to Eerie-on-Sea. There are plenty out there, both chip shops and book shops (and likely very few Mermedusa or Malamander unless you happen to be in Eerie on Sea!), and each shop is just waiting to serve up whatever kind of fishy fun, adventure, mystery, and delight your hearts' desire.

 

THOMAS TAYLOR's WEB page can be found HERE  or type this: https://www.thomastaylor-author.com/


 

WALKER BOOKS' web page can be found HERE.  or type this: https://www.walker.co.uk/

 

GEORGE ERMOS's page at his agents site can be found HERE or type this: https://thebrightagency.com/uk/childrens-illustration/artists/george-ermos#bio

 

After all that reviewing, and so much ice cream, I shall leave you with a selfie of not-at-all eerie little old me.  πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

We are joining the Sunday Selfies, hosted by the wonderful Kittes Blue and their mum, Janet Blue in America.

Small image. The Cat on My Head Sunday Selfies Blog Hop badge. Features a yellow-haired lady with a tuxedo cat on her head.

 


This is me looking at you. Or, more precisely, at Mrs H, wanting to know why supper is late. And it better not be anything fishy or with more legs (or tentacles) than me!

 


Till laters!

ERin

31 comments:

  1. Hi, Erin, thanks for popping by Beaus blog, you are looking really beautiful

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    1. Our pleasure. Have a great weekend and enjoy a great book, too!
      ERin

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  2. We sure hope you did not have to wait too long for dinner, Erin. Nice selfie, though! :)

    This book sounds like a very interesting read. Even the names of the characters seem so creative. Do you think we should read the other books in the series before this one? Hugs to you and Mrs. H!

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    1. I'd say yes to reading the others. It is interesting to know this series was never meant to be this long. But it has been a delight to read as the cast of characters and villains rose. Culminating with a brilliant end game. Maybe you will be our winner this week?
      ERin

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  3. Another great review of what sounds like a wonderful book. To be honest, most of the books you review make me want to read them. My list of must reads is as long as both my arms now! That is a lovely selfie.

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    1. Thank you. This one is superb. The whole series has been a real delight. We are lucky that we pick books we like, but they are all well written anyway which makes most reviews really easy. Hopefully you might be a winner in our giveaway, in which case your reading list will shrink by a few inches πŸ˜‰
      ERin

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  4. ERin
    Mermedusa rolls right off your tongue
    Love it Hugs cecilia

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    Replies
    1. I think you'll love the books too then. They have a delightful flow to them. Kids and adults are in for a treat.
      ERin

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  5. I love a series such as this! You do it great service with such an excellent review.

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    1. Thanks, we try. It isn't always easy to convey how excellent a book is without giving away too much.
      ERin

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  6. You always are reading and reviewing such interesting and wonderful books!!

    That is a beautiful selfie, too!! Love how the ends of your furs seem to be sparkling in the sunshine!

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    1. Thank you. We pick and choose what we like and share carefully. If we like it we hope otheres will too. Middle grade books are these days incredibly well written and fun.
      ERin

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  7. This sounds the ciolest book. I aim to order it locally (it may take a while) If we won the draw please send the prize to BellaDharma who is a voracious reader!

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  8. PS the Anonymous is Marjorie and Toulouse.

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    1. Thanks for confirming who you are, I almost deleted you! Good luck in the draw!
      If you want to read this series it realy is best to start from book one, Marjorie.
      ERin

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  9. Replies
    1. Thank you, it has brought a ttear to many a reviewer I am told, so we were not alone. A global hit for kids and adults alike. And thank you re the selfie. A rare sunny Sunday in a rather drab summer, well actually autumn now.
      ERin

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  10. That sounds pretty interesting to us! Your selfie is most pretty sweet Princess. Hey, we got the book we won from your blog, thanks!!!

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    1. I am glad the book arrived, Brian. I think most folk will love this series, especially if you read them in conjunction with fish and chips suppers to follow.
      ERin

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  11. Replies
    1. Thank you. I wasnt quite as sparkling as yours this week, but I have to do my own spa treatments, minus a shower!
      ERin

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  12. Wow, a great review, Ms E, and we shall look into it soon!

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    1. Please do. Great kids books are such fun. This is one of the very best series out there of its kind.
      ERin

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  13. MOL...That Selfie is purriceless, sweet Erin, we love when the sun shines and brings out the best of you...even if it's fishy...😻Double Pawkisses for a Happy Day to you and Mrs H tooπŸΎπŸ˜½πŸ’ž

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  14. I don't know how Mrs. H could ignore you, ERin!

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    Replies
    1. You would be surprised what she can do, sherry and chores permitting. . .
      ERin

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  15. What a very conscientious reviewer Mrs H. must be, doing all that research!

    As to your selfie, ERin - it is beautiful, as always!

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    1. Excuse me! I do most of the reiews around here, in between naps, meals and fitness training sessions (on the sofa– sofa arobics is the way to go). Mrs H just types them up in between chores and taste checking the latest sherry purchaes from Mrs Singh. I am conscientious though; I mean, what cat isn't, right?
      ERin the book reviewer

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