Gargantis is the follow up to Thomas Taylor’s brilliant Malamander. Legends, rhymes, a magical sprightning, a ferocious storm and a hooded figure combine in a read full of tension, suspense and with plot twists that are often chilling. Gargantis can be read as a stand alone but when the story-telling is this good I implore you to read Malamander first as it definitely helps tie the two narratives together. When you do pick up Gargantis you will be treated to a sequel that is even better than the first.
Winter is looming in Eerie-on-Sea and a storm is brewing like no other. Rain is lashing down, winds are swirling, thunder is booming and lightning is zig zagging its way down from the stormy skies. The cobbled laneways and sea-side attractions are taking a battering and the storm-trashed alleyways are empty of the summer tourists.
Eerie is a place of myth, legends and superstition. Stories of a fabled creature from the deep are whispered amongst local fisherfolk, the only thing that could bring such a storm to the town is the mighty Gargantis. A creature that the legendary and famous St. Dismal saved the town from a thousand years ago.
When a hooded stranger arrives at the Grand Nautilus hotel swiftly followed by a bedraggled Mrs. Fossil who is clutching a mysterious bottle, Herbie and Violet find themselves thrown into another adventure. Many lay claim to the bottle but it is up to Herbie - the Lost-and-Founderer of the hotel - to reunite the bottle with its true owner and in doing so he will have to face the legendary Gargantis head on.
Like Malamander, Gargantis is a thrilling fantasy adventure set amongst the cobbles and twisty old streets of Eerie-on-Sea. The fabulous map at the start of the book shows the town in all it’s pre-storm battered glory. Readers of Malamander will be thrilled to see that familiar places remain, I’m a huge fan of the Eerie Book Dispensary and could definitely eat a steaming plate of chips from Seagols Diner. It was so good to be back in Eerie-on-Sea and I felt like I was back with old friends. Violet and Herbie play the parts of your best mates perfectly and you feel part of their team as they race around trying to uncover the mystery. I also feel right at home with Mrs. Fossil and would be happy to devour one of her caramel muffins, even the dulcet and dreary tones of Mr. Mollusc are almost pleasurable.
There is suspense and danger at every turn as Herbie and Violet investigate the goings-on and the wonderful cast of dark and dangerous characters do little to ease the tension. It is hard to know who to trust when everyone wants to get their hands on something that doesn’t appear to belong to any of them. You are never quite sure exactly who someone is and what their intentions are and Taylor keeps readers guessing right until the end.
As Violet learns more about the history of the town she begins to piece together the mystery and is willing to take greater risks to uncover the truth. Her bold, quick-to-act and fearless nature is the brilliant counter-opposite to Herbie’s more reserved, cautious and calculating approach to things. The duo have knack of getting themselves spotted and trouble and turmoil is never far away. Whether it be opening things they shouldn’t be, being in places that are strictly out of bounds or trying to secretly eavesdrop on private conversations.
This thrilling sea-side adventure moves on at pace and with chapters that end on cliff-hangers it is a very difficult book to put down as you find yourself desperate to know what will happen next. Each chapter title is accompanied with its own mysterious black and white illustration and a strange sea creature appears at the end of every chapter. In the author’s notes we learn that Taylor lives by the sea and enjoys everything about the beach. His connection to the seaside and love for the beach shine through in his writing and illustrations.
The story is definitely not finished and I wait with anticipation for the next adventure and mystery to be unveiled in Eerie-on-Sea.
Recommended for 9+.