MALAMANDER by Thomas Taylor (Walker £7.99, 304 pp)
by Thomas Taylor (Walker £7.99, 304 pp)
Aged just twelve, orphaned Herbie Lemon runs the Lost and Found service at the Grand Nautilus Hotel in Eerie-on-Sea.
His routine is shattered when Violet Parma, a girl of similar age, crashes through his basement window one snowy night, hiding from a sopping wet man with a boathook for a hand.
She begs Herbie to help her solve the mystery of her parents’ disappearance from the beach 12 years earlier — setting in train a thrilling mystery based on the legend of the malamander, a sea creature whose solitary egg, laid once a year, has the power to grant human wishes.
Taylor’s prose effervesces with humour, the setting is richly atmospheric, the story sails along at a rate of knots and all the characters are beautifully drawn.
Herbie and Violet are destined for more adventures and I, for one, can’t wait.
by Abi Elphinstone (S&S £6.99, 336 pp)
RUMBLESTAR by Abi Elphinstone (S&S £6.99, 336 pp)
A new trilogy from the talented Elphinstone begins in Rumblestar, an ‘unmapped’ kingdom linked to Earth’s continents, where magic has the power to conjure up sunshine, snow and all weather conditions in between.
Eleven-year-old Casper, a shy boy who likes order and predictability, has accidentally been transported through a portal into this enchanted land where Morg, a malign harpy, is attempting to seize control of the magic.
When he’s kidnapped by impulsive, excitable Utterly Thankless (and her adorable miniature dragon), he reluctantly finds himself drawn into her plot to foil the wicked forces and save his own homeland.
As ever, Elphinstone’s control of her complex universe is faultless and the thrilling plot is underpinned by a touching, emotional backstory.
STARFELL by Dominique Valente (HarperCollins £12.99, 288 pp)
by Dominique Valente (HarperCollins £12.99, 288 pp)
Young Willow the witch’s spell-casting abilities stretch only to finding lost things — a talent held in low regard until Moreg Vaine, the most intimidating witch in Starfell, asks for her help.
A whole day, last Tuesday, has gone missing and the world is under threat. Together with Willow’s cat-like monster-under-the-bed, they set off to find the thief and right injustice.
This is a rip-roaring debut, packed with dragons and trolls, family rivalries and bitter grudges but the lasting message is one of loyalty, hope and the value of being different.
With entertaining line drawings by Sarah Warburton, this is a series to watch out for.