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Thomas Taylor

It’s the first weekend of the summer holidays and I’ve just come back from a mini-break in the quirky seaside town of Eerie-On-Sea.  But there was no time for relaxation… forget lazy fish and chip lunches in Seagol’s diner, leisurely strolls around town mooching in Mrs Fossil’s Flotsam Emporium or browsing Eerie’s infamous Book Dispensory – oh no! Not when there’s a malevolent spirit on the loose!

I’m a huge fan of Malamander and Gargantis so Shadowghast was amongst my most highly anticipated releases this year. The third Eeerie legend has absolutely cemented my love for the series and made me even hungrier for more!

In this adventure, our favourite ship-wrecked orphan Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, must defeat a creature of town lore as he confronts a shadow from his past – are we finally going to get some answers to all those questions that were left hanging in the previous two instalments I hear you say?

It’s late October when we arrive in Eerie. The nights are drawing in and a mist has descended on the somewhat dilapidated seaside town. The tourists are long-gone and Halloween is on the horizon.

While other towns celebrate All Hallows Eve, in Eerie-on-Sea it’s Ghastly Night, and a vengeful spirit in an ancient lantern awaits its moment to wreak havoc. Local legend has it that if the townspeople fail to light manglewick candles on Ghastly Night, the Shadowghast will seize and devour the shadows of the living…it’s a seriously spooky story that will make your hairs stand on end!

In Eerie tradition, Dr Thalassi and Mrs Fossil are preparing to put on their shadow puppet show on the pier as an offering to the spirits as the locals huddle in the cold night air with toffee apples and sparklers. But this year, a professional theatre troupe has arrived to steal the show.

Head-lining the act is a raven-haired magician named Caliastra with startling news of Herbie’s past. But no sooner have the players checked into The Grand Nautilus Hotel than townspeople start vanishing into thin air, including Eerie Book Dispensory proprietor  Jenny Hanniver, the guardian of Herbie’s best friend, Violet Parma.

It’s up to Herbie and Vi to solve the mystery of the Shadowghast lantern before darkness swallows them all… Adventure literally drips from every sea-soaked page! There’s concealed doors, secret smugglers tunnels and a crumbling theatre to explore.

Being back in Eerie-on Sea was like returning on holiday to a favourite resort with old friends. The cast of quirky characters are so well-drawn they feel like family and the setting so well crafted, Eerie becomes more like a real place with each stay. From the very first page, Taylor completely immerses the reader in Eerie life and allows us to discover new features of the town, whilst revisiting old haunts – a visit to Eerie-on-Sea wouldn’t be complete without witnessing the Mer-Monkey dispense at least one book!

Taylor’s trademark humour is ever-present (Dunderbrains don’t grow on trees don’t you know!!) and you’ll be pleased to know that magical Book Dispensory cat Erwin plays a central role in this adventure – a cat of few words, he delivers countless cracking one-liners. Hapless hotelier Mr Mollusc gets a hilarious tongue-lashing from kantankerous Lady Kraken on more than one occasion too.

This is children’s fiction at it’s finest – the way our protagonists Herbie and Violet spend most of their time coming and going as they please without much interference from adults is just the way a good old-fashioned adventure should be, absolute pure escapism.  These are books I will re-read and enjoy over and over.

And finally, if you wondering…yes! There’s going to be a fourth Eerie adventure! (I nearly hyperventilated with excitement) My lips are sealed as to the details but we are teased with a sneak peek of what’s to come next at the end of Shadowghast.

If you haven’t yet visited Eerie-on-Sea, there’s plenty of time to do so before Shadowghast publishes on the 2nd September.

So check yourself into the Grand Nautilus Hotel for the summer (they do fabulous breakfasts!) and enjoy the previous two legends in the series.

With thanks to Walker books and Netgalley for approving me to read an e-copy of Shadowghast in advance of publication.

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