Parents' Guide to

Malamander: Legends of Eerie-on-Sea, Book 1

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Delightfully spooky fantasy-series start has charm, chills.

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This delightfully spooky fantasy series opener for big kids and tweens drips with charm and chills, thanks to sprinklings of magic, humor, and mystery along with a dash of steampunk. Malamander is populated with colorful, quirky characters led by the clever and intrepid duo of 12-year-olds, Herbie and Violet. The plot moves along at a brisk pace with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Author Thomas Taylor's entertaining use of language, especially when it comes to people and place names; his sly sense of humor; and chapters with cliffhanger endings make it a great choice to read aloud. Sprinkled throughout are vivid illustrations that bring the story to life.

Neither Herbie nor Violet has parents, and themes of loss are explored with sensitivity but not too deeply. Other themes include friendship, trust, and the joys and dangers of discovery. The story wraps up nicely while leaving plenty of room for more to come. Kids who can handle a scare or two will enjoy the action, adventure, magic, and mystery along the way.

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