This witty adventure, set in the seaside town of Eerie-on-Sea, where young Herbert Lemon is in charge of the Lost and Found at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, zips along. It begins when Violet Parma tumbles into Herbie’s lost-property office through a window, pursued by a man with a boathook for a hand. She recruits Herbie to help find her lost parents, natural historians who disappeared 12 years previously, leaving behind their baby and two pairs of empty shoes on a beach. A mystery unfolds involving a sea monster (the Malamander), a magical object that grants wishes, a duplicitous villain, a talking cat and a curious cast of characters. This book introduces a diverse new detective duo in Herbie and Violet, and is told with such neat storytelling and surprising phrases it would be a joy to read aloud.
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.
Taylor knows how to create atmosphere and a sense of creepy place. It’s a book to be devoured, but is also born for the screen — and I can’t wait to see this south-coast Grand Budapest Hotel meets The Shape of Water (but with a better plot) become a hit.
It is winter in the coastal town of Eerie-on-Sea. Mist drifts up the streets, the wind howls around Maw Rocks, and some swear a monstrous, scaly creature lurks around the wrecked battleship. In the Grand Nautilus Hotel, a mysterious girl crashes into Herbert Lemon's room and begs him to help her. She is Violet Parma, whose parents disappeared in the town 12 years earlier. Here begins a wonderfully imaginative and atmospheric adventure, rich in myth and legend, and with a delicious gothic edge. The quirky cast includes a mechanical mermonkey who dispatches book prescriptions, the terrifying Boathook Man and local author Sebastian Eels. Is anyone quite who they appear to be?
Taylor is best known as an illustrator-he famously created the original jacket for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone-but Malamander confirms him as a ferociously talented writer. Walker won the book in an eight-way auction, and has subsequently sold numerous foreign rights-and this really is one that deserves all the buzz. The first in a trilogy set in Eerie-on-Sea, where strange stories seem destined to wash up...