BookBound review Shadowghast by Thomas Taylor

It is a real pleasure as the team behind this blog, to share a joint review of another of our 2021 favourites, Shadowghast by Thomas Taylor. The anticipation of this title publishing this month has meant that both of us have been eager to get our hands on it, and we are incredibly grateful to Walker Books for sending us out a copy each, which in turn prevented us from arguing over who gets to enjoy this book first! When we came together to discuss content for our blog we both agreed that a double review feature would be our best way of promoting this mystery filled adventure for parents and librarians alike, so that we can give you an insight into why this book is a must read, and why the children in your lives will delight at being able to get their hands on it.

  • Published by Walker books

Sam

If like me you are asked by a child/children, at home or in school as either a a parent or school librarian, or in my case both, for a scary story recommendation then the Eerie-On-sea Series is at the top of the list. That is just one of the many reasons why I head straight for the Thomas Taylor titles at home, and in my school library, perhaps the biggest reason being just how gripping the books that feature within this series are. The latest title, Shadowghast was published earlier this month (2nd September), and it delivers everything you could hope it would if you are a huge fan of this series, with Malamander, and Gargantis paving the way before this stunning new title, in which we grow to love the series’ main characters Herbert Lemon, and Violet Parma.

True to the style of the previous two titles, Shadowghast features a legend at the heart of the seaside resort, and this particular one is that of a creature that steals shadows from unwilling victims, all of which is done via a ‘puppet master’ that controls the drama as it unfolds, and the bodies of those that are shadow less afterwards too. It is an unbelievable read, that is fast paced from the offset, and unforgettable long after you conclude reading it. I have multiple copies of the titles in this series in my school library, and each and every one of them is on loan, with one copy of Malamander being borrowed for a Year 5 class read.

The Shadowghast is a legend of Halloween in this latest Eerie-On-Sea instalment, with the people of the town on edge about the upcoming holiday season, and superstitions writhe, so much so that Manglewick Candles have been created by the talented beachcomber and shop owner Mrs Fossil, which are lit at night to ward of the Shadowghast. This is Eerie-On-Sea’s equivalent of carving and displaying pumpkins that we are all familiar with, and gives a new level of spooky to the season that will captivate readers as they become immersed in this latest mystery and adventure to be solved by Herbie and Violet.

The pair are powerful in their determination to do the right thing by those the care about, especially Eerie-On-Sea’s residents that have taken the pair under their wing since they arrived, with Herbie washing up on the beach following an apparent shipwreck, and Violet arriving at the seaside resort in search of her missing parents. Despite, and because of their pasts, the pair show strength and courage in the face of danger that makes them the perfect role models for children to become fans of, and adds to the readers desire to see the pair succeed.

There is much to be learnt in this instalment, and for fans that are following the series like myself it is the continuation that we have waited for, with even more depth and detail to reward fans with, if that is possible given that the first two books are such worthy read as stand alone reads or as a series, and I highly recommend the latter because readers come to learn so much about the town, and the people that live there, from Jenny who owns the Book Dispensary to Dr Thalassi, a curator of sorts at the Museum, and so many more, including the town ‘baddie’ Sebastian Eels.

There is something very special about Herbie, the Lost-and-Founder at The Grand Nautilus Hotel, and this develops further with Shadowghast, and leaves many unanswered questions within readers minds, which they will be hoping are answered in the next book, announced as FesterGrimm, a title which poses unanswered questions for me personally, but that might involve spoilers, so I will reserve sharing that at this stage, although having discussed my thoughts with BookBound co-blogger Helen Byles (@helenbyles), we are both equally curious and nervously excited for the potential of what is to come.

You will notice I referred to recommending these books at home, and yet have only discussed the popularity and use of the books in this series at work, well let me conclude my write up of this must read middle grade 2021 publication by sharing the impact these books have had at home, like I have in my reviews of the earlier titles. My oldest child is now 16, and was introduced to Malamander, Thomas Taylor’s middle grade/children’s debut, as a proof that I was lucky to be sent out by Walker Books in early 2019, and he immediately devoured the book as a 15 year old avid reader that had previously enjoyed series’ such as Alex Rider (Anthony Horowitz), The Mortal Engines (Philip Reeve), and The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) to name but a few. My Son has since gone on to get his own copy personalised by Thomas Taylor, and delight in Gargantis, and now Shagowghast. He is as excited as me, if not more so, for the next title to be published. He was once a reluctant reader, but having been introduced to the right books is now a teenager that is proud to say he reads for pleasure.

And so, just as peer promotion within the school I work in has seen these titles become some of the most popular we stock, as is the case at home, where conversations regularly turn to reading, books, and recommendations of both, which has subsequently led to my 12 year old following in his brothers footsteps, and cousins of my children also heading off on unforgettable adventures with Herbie and Violet amongst the seaside town that we can all relate to, through visits to the beach we have had, and long to be able to visit, if only Eerie-On-Sea was on the map. This series by Thomas Taylor has definitely achieved just that, putting it on the map of must reads for children ages 8+.

Helen

So let’s get something straight I love Eerie-On-Sea, and if I could live anywhere then it would be there. The town has everything you need a hotel,  a fish and chip shop and of course a bookshop. The people on the whole are nice and it’s quieter in winter. And as for a job, I don’t mind being a lost and founder it seems an interesting job or failing that I would love to own the bookshop. When I first read Malamander I couldn’t put it down, it left so many unanswered questions.  Then along came Gargantis and that was even better, it was so action packed,  but there was still unanswered questions,  still nothing on where Herbie Lemon came from so us fans were pretty sure that another one was coming. 

In the book world cheers went round when book 3 Shadowghast was announced. There were even rumours of a 4th book. 

So I jumped at the chance to write a review side by side with my #BookBound partner Sam. As we are both massive fans we were delighted when our book turned up. 

To start with as you open the book, you come across a wonderful in detail map, and I love nothing more than a map.

We join the story on Lady Kraken’s birthday, and as a treat for the staff everyone gets a massive breakfast. 

When a stranger turns up at the hotel claiming to be Herbies long last aunt,  Violet isn’t convinced. I’m not going to mention anymore of the story other to say there’s twists and turns throughout the book,  something I didn’t see coming and the usual goings on in Eerie on Sea. Still questions were left unanswered Personally I think Lady Kraken knows more about Herbies past then she let’s on, but that’s just my opinion,  lucky there’s a promise of book 4. I for one can’t wait.

We would both like to give a shout out to George Ermos, the incredible talent behind the stunning covers for the books in the An Eerie-On-Sea Mystery series. The covers are as captivating as the books, and do a fabulous job of drawing readers to the books, and giving them a powerful insight into the adventure that awaits.

  • Malamander published 2nd May 2019
  • Gargantis published 7th May 2020
  • Shadowghast published 2nd September 2021
  • Festergrimm is the next instalment, publication date TBC

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