On the 7th May 2020 the second title in the Malamander series was published by Walker Books, and it was well worth the wait – I have wanted to get my hands on a copy of this book from the moment I finished the first, which was released on 2nd May 2019. I waited until today to publish my review and blog content on Gargantis because it is exactly one year since I was fortunate enough to meet Thomas Taylor in a local bookstore as he promoted his debut children’s book, one that both myself and my then 13yo son had read and instantly fallen in love with, adamant it was a worthy candidate for Book of the Year.
I went to the event on behalf of my son as much as for myself, with him asking me to get his copy of Malamander dedicated to him, and with a message specific to just him and right then – Happy 14th Birthday – because that day was his birthday! Irrespective of all the other plans we had for that day, it was of paramount importance to him that I got his book signed and dedicated, and so I did. The event Thomas hosted was priceless, memorable, and most importantly it had an authentically magical feel that truly did justice to the book and the books characters. It did not disappoint, which was crucial given that the book was such a successful masterpiece, much like this latest title.
Props at the event included a treasure chest which when opened would allow the audience to hear sounds of the ocean, the chance to hold seaglass from Eerie on Sea, and much more. It was such an audience immersive event that has remained with me since, and I know a lot of fans will be disappointed (myself included) that there hasn’t been the opportunity to attend and arrange Gargantis relevant events due to the current lockdown/pandemic affecting the world. That said, there is even more reason than usual to have something to look forward to, and somewhere to escape to, and Gargantis offered both of those when it arrived on publication day.
Gargantis offers escapism to the incredible seaside town of Eerie on Sea, a place we become so unbelievably immersed in via the first book, and have come to love since. Eerie on Sea is once again awash with mystery, and who better to investigate then the diligent Herbert Lemon (love that name!) and his loyal sidekick Violet Parma. Together they set about trying to learn the true owner of a fish shaped bottle the local beachcomber has found and return it to them accordingly. With several locals laying claim to the item, it isn’t an easy task to research and determine the best way to honour such a treasure, and determine its final resting place but the duo are relentless in seeing the challenge laid upon them through, Herbert is after all Eerie’s official lost and founder. Faced with unsettling stormy weather, rowdy sailors, and a creature that is linked to the precious heirloom in their possession ensure this is an unforgettable adventure that you become so incredibly invested in, willing Herbert and Violet to succeed in uncovering the history of the bottle, and the significance it has to Eerie on Sea.
Readers are rewarded with a vivid environment to immerse themselves in as they dive further and further into the murky world that Thomas Taylor has created, escaping in an unbelievable tale of truth and deceit, fear and survival, trust and betrayal. Middle grade readers, competent in chapter book reading, are incredibly lucky to grow up as Thomas Taylor fans, which I of course am completely envious of as I would have relished the opportunity to indulge in this book, and indeed this series as this generation can. So on my son’s 15th birthday (today) I find myself chatting with him about these books, have gifted him my copy of Gargantis to enjoy (he has been crazing me for it since it arrived in the post), and am waiting impatiently for the next title to make its presence known in the world of children’s literature. Any book that follows has big shoes to fill, because one again I am confident that we have a candidate for book of the year, as the moment you start reading Gargantis you are enjoying more than a book with a stunning cover, you are embarking on an unforgettable journey, alongside remarkable characters to uncover deep rooted local history whilst solving mysteries that begin with the arrival of a suspicious character.
Gargantis is published by Walker Books, and available to purchase from all good bookstores