Book Review: Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Hello everyone, today I am going to be reviewing Malamander, a middle grade book I finished reading (or rather, listening to) just yesterday. This review will be completely spoiler-free, and you can click on the cover image below to go to Goodreads and add this wonderful (though very under-hyped) book to your TBR!

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Synopsis

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…

My Rating [ ] (4.5 out of 5 stars)
My Review

This was my second audiobook, and my, what an experience! The audiobook was narrated by Will M. Watt, and I absolutely LOVED the narration! It really added to the story. The drama and the constant urgency with which the story was narrated was really cool. I doubt I’d have liked this book as much as I did, if I’d read the e-book or a physical copy. So if you’re looking to read Malamander, I would HIGHLY recommend you listening to it. Trust me, you’ll enjoy that rollercoaster.

The major reason why Malamander got such a good rating from me is because of Herbie, the main character. Herbie was quirky, funny and witty – this made him instantly likeable. I am not saying a main character should always be perfect, but hear this – Malamander is written in first person POV, which means, we get to know the story, the characters, the world, entirely through Herbie’s eyes. I have always believed that it is immensely important to develop a liking to the main character if you’re going to be stuck in his or head for the duration of an entire story. 4 stars out of the 4.5 I gave this book belong to you, Herbie!

If you’re anything like me (by which I mean, a scaredy cat who goes out of their way to avoid reading horror books) and got kinda misled by the synopsis, let me tell you – you have nothing to worry about! Whatever you might assume after reading the synopsis, the tone for most part was Malamander was quite light hearted, and there is hardly any horror element.

I liked the feeling of the entire town Eerie-On-Sea being a friendly (well, mostly!) community where the locals knew and treated each other like family. I also found the idea of Herbie being ‘adopted’ and accepted by the entire town positively endearing. The side characters in the book were quite well-written too.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Malamander to readers of all ages, though I suppose children especially will find this book particularly appealing.

Let’s Chat!

Have you read (or listened to) Malamander? Do you have it on your TBR? If not, did I manage to convince you to read it? Let me know in the comments!

Discussion Post: Role Of Parents In MG And YA Fantasy (Part 1)

Hello everyone, I would like to wish you a very happy Mother’s Day! I wanted to do something special on this occasion, so I came up with this idea for a discussion post – talking about the role of parents in today’s middle grade and young adult fantasy novels! I know it’s slightly long (thank goodness I decided to divide it into two parts!), but I’ve worked quite hard to put all this together, so I really hope you enjoy reading it and also express your opinions, since it is a discussion post. So without further ado, let’s start!


To put it bluntly, in most modern middle grade and young adult novels, the parents are neglected. And I am not even talking about the other characters’ parents, I am talking about the main character’s. I totally understand the reason. When the entire story is about a teenage girl who, one fine morning, discovers she has magical powers (just talking about a general thing here, not pointing to any book) why would anyone want to know about her mother? But including the parent(s) in the story does enhance it in some cases. I don’t know about you, but I would definitely love to see the parent-child relationship develop through the course of the story. But of course, there are also a lot of novels (especially MG) which involve the parents wholeheartedly.

In this post, we are going to go through the different types of roles parents have in MG and YA fantasies through the examples of popular books.


I think one of the most common parent-related trope is dead parent(s). It is very convenient to kill off one or both parents before the book even starts. I believe this is because a dead parent not only reduces the complexity of the story (no need to explain the main character’s relationship with them, etc), they also provide a certain backbone to the story, as the main character struggles to accept their deaths, or follow their footsteps etc. Dead parents usually mean that though they are not physically present throughout the events of the book, their presence is somehow felt. This trope has been executed in so different ways, some good, some not-so.

In The Mystwick School of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury, the main character Amelia lost her mother at a very early age, and after her death, her father disappeared. All Amelia wanted was to become a Maestro, because her mother was one. She chose flute (and that too her mother’s) as her instrument because her mother had been a flutist. And she wanted more than anything to go to Mystwick, because it was the music school her mother went too. Later in the book, she mentions (too many times!) that she felt very close to her late mother in Mystwick. And even later, her mother forms a huge part of the ending. I felt the story would have been better if it focused less on the dead mother and more on our main character.

We all know about Harry Potter. Orphaned when he was barely an infant, Harry learns more about his parents at Hogwarts. I like the little details we get, from Sirius and Snape and others, but maybe Harry could have shown a little more, I don’t know, like anger or sorrow or something for his parents throughout the series?

All’s not bad. I have come across books which have executed the dead parent trope wonderfully. Renegades by Marissa Meyer is a very good example. The murder of the mc’s (her name is Nova) parents and sister is actually shown in the very beginning, and after that it kinda takes a backseat. But it definitely fuels Nova’s hatred for the Renegades and her drive to destroy them. There are occasional mentions, enough for the reader to remember why Nova’s doing what she’s doing, but not enough to be irritating or repetitive. The perfect balance.


Then we have the parents who are very much alive, but not involved much in the story, in other words, the absent parents. I personally don’t favour this trope much. I mean, I know its fiction, but there should be something relatable, right? It is very unrealistic that the parent is totally unaware while their child is off riding dragons and/or meeting dwarves and/or nearly getting killed and what not.

In Orion Lost by Alastair Chrisholm, the adults are all in cyro sleep, leaving only the children aboard the spaceship to deal with everything. The mc’s mother and father are introduced at the beginning of the novel, but then they play no role throughout the story whatsoever. I am not saying its a bad thing, but you know, just absent parents.

Same is the case with Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend. I mean, I loved all the three books (I rated them 5 stars!) but what I want to point out is that the mc’s father (her mother is dead) has no role throughout the trilogy except being mean to her in the first few pages of the first book.


And finally we have the books which actually give importance to the parents. I feel this one is the best there is. But you know what, I am not going to talk about these books in this post. I will be discussing these in the second part of this discussion. (Sorry if you came here only for these, but that next post will hopefully be worth the wait!)

Before you leave, I would like to share the results of a small survey I conducted. I put the following question forward to a group of readers –

In a YA or MG fantasy, would you prefer –

  1. Absent Parent (Little or no role in the story)
  2. Dead Parent
  3. Parent with an important role to play

The response was quite overwhelming and one-sided. A total of 85 people answered my question, out of which 73 of them favoured the last option i.e. parents with an important role to play. Of the remaining, 4 answered ‘dead parent’ and 8 chose ‘absent parent’. This means that about 85% prefer books with active parents. I think I agree with them, such books are fun to read.

Since so many of you like books with parent participation, this is what we will be (mostly) discussing in the second part of this discussion post, and teaser – I will be including some recs (books with active parents) too! Stay tuned, it won’t be long before the Part 2 goes up!

Which kind of fictional parents do you like best in MG and YA books? What are your thoughts on portrayal of parents in fantasy for young readers? Feel free to express your opinions in the comments, I would be more than happy to have a friendly discussion!

We’re going on an adventure! || Wyrd & Wonder 2021 TBR

It’s been so long since I took part in any readathon or reading challenge, that when I found out about this entire new world of fantasy lovers, Wyrd and Wonder, I signed up right away! It runs throughout the month of May, and there is like a prompt for every day of the month. What I liked the most about this is that there are no hard and fast rules to this – we can respond to the prompt with a photo, a blog post, anything we want. (psst! As far as I know, sign ups are open throughout the month, so it is not too late to join in! Click HERE to see the intro post, where you will find everything you need to know!)

Obviously I will be reading only fantasy this month, and most of my blog posts will also be centered around the same. Here is how my planned TBR looks like.

(from top left to bottom right)

  • The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray
  • The Flame of Olympus by Kate O’Hearn (The Wyrd and Wonder mascot this year is a pegasus, so how can I not read this?)
  • The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
  • Supernova by Marissa Meyer
  • The Shadow Watch by S.A. Klopfenstein

Buddy-read call out!

I would love to buddy read any of these books with you guys! So if any of them is on your TBR as well, let me know in the comments so we can arrange a buddy-read!!


Before ending this post, I would like to inform you that I will not be following my regular posting schedule in May. There are two reasons for this – 1) because I will be following the respective dates of the prompts from Wyrd & Wonder and 2) since I am comparatively less busy with other stuff this month, I hope to post more frequently than my regular schedule permits. However, I will most probably be back to following my schedule from June.

Are any of these books on your TBR? Are you taking part in any readathon/ reading challenge in May? Would you like to suggest me ideas for different discussion posts, lists, etc related to fantasy that I can do this month? Let me know in the comments! See you there!!