Skeleton Keys – The Unimaginary Friend

The first thing that strikes me about this book is the familiar feeling the cover design gives, and that would be down to Stitch Head – an incredibly popular series of books also written by Guy Bass and illustrated by Pete Williamson. The illustrations are utterly iconic in The Unimaginary Friend giving the book an eye catching design and an insight into this incredibly energetic adventure story.

Entering the world of The Unimaginary Friend will undoubtedly prove as popular as the other Guy Bass and Pete Williamson collaborations, not least because of the perfect balance of immersive illustrations and text, so when we are introduced to main character Ben we already have an expectation that his life is far from ordinary. It seems that Ben and his family move around a lot, and consequently Ben has taken to creating imaginary friends to play with and keep him company as he is never around long enough to make the ‘real’ sort.

When Ben has a birthday party and not a single child turns up he is determined not to be lonely, and to have a friend who won’t let him down or desert him, so Ben does what comes naturally to him, he creates an imaginary friend, except this time his friend doesn’t stay within the confines of Ben’s imagination.

“The monster was exactly as Ben had imagined him : a plump, hairy thing, just a little taller than Ben”

Enter the Gorblimey, a fully fur monster that is instantly protective of, and loyal to Ben. He is described as “kind, gentle and just a little nervous” which is evident from his behaviour when the books narrator Skeleton Keys arrives on the scene with a stark warning – he has sensed that an imaginary friend Ben has created is dangerous and wants to banish it somewhere so that it cannot harm anyone.

Ben soon points out that Gorblimey is his friend, and that changes everything.

With Skeleton Keys unsure how he could be wrong at the same time that Ben is introducing Gorblimey to his family it isn’t long before the adventure really begins. The story includes monsters of both the friendly and spooky variety – Skeleton Keys himself has fingers shaped like keys that enable him to create doorways and exits wherever he pleases, which prove handy given his role is to capture the unruly.

One of the keys opens a door for Ben to a place that helps him understand and discover details to a family mystery that he which is the focus of this adventure story that combines humour with spookiness to create an unforgettable story. There are characters that will give you goosebumps like Daisy whos head is on back to front, and then there is the Gorblimey who leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. The narrative is light hearted and fun with a halloween level of scary making this a great title to recommend to reluctant readers, readers gaining confidence in chapter books and fans of adventure stories with a hint of jump scare.

Skeleton Key : The Unimaginary Friend is Written by Gus Bass, Illustrated by Pete Williamson. The book published by Little Tiger Press on 5th September 2019 in paperback at £5.99.

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