Books for reluctant readers: Review of Malamander by Thomas Taylor

by | May 24, 2019

This review of Malamander is part of our ongoing quest to encourage reluctant readers to find their ‘key’ book. Maybe this is the book that will unlock their love of reading?

Malamander is a quirky adventure tale about friendship, being brave, optimistic and, most of all, resourceful. Herbert Lemon is a 12-year-old boy, employed as Lost-and-Founder at the Great Nautilus Hotel in a gothic seaside town called Eerie-on-Sea in winter and Cheerie-on-Sea in summer. It’s a very quiet winter season for Herbie when Violet Palma bursts through the door.

Violet claims she herself is lost and needs to be found. She was left as a baby at the hotel 12 years ago, but she is adamant her parents didn’t abandon her and she wants Herbie to help her find them.

It’s the beginning of a delightful friendship, with Herbie’s smart, savvy cynicism tempered beautifully by Violet’s naive, unflinching optimism. The duo may need to rely on every aspect of their character to survive the mythical (or is he?) Malamander, the chilling sea-monster who is said to control people’s dreams… or does he?

Click here for an interactive map of Eerie-on-Sea.

Map of Eerie on Sea - map of Malamander

In a town filled with quirky characters, the town itself is the most memorable. Eerie-on-Sea is a living, breathing just-the-right-amount-of-creepy place that pours itself into young consciousness and may keep sensitive readers up at night.

For others, Malamander is a fascinating tale of friendship and wonder – just as long as you stay off the beach at night…  The adventure is told in an endearingly rambling style that some kids might find a bit confusing, until they get into it. Then they won’t be able to put this book down.

Buy it at: Booktopia, on sale for $13.95


Ages 9 – ancient (I really enjoyed it myself)

Reminds me of:

•  Harry Potter series by JK Rowling for the touch of magic;

•  A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket for the quirky characters;  

•  Withering-By-Sea by Judith Rossell for the peculiar atmosphere;

•  Book Of Secrets by AL Tait for the rolling-along storyline.

Things to note:

•  Dark and scary atmosphere

•  Secret Seven-style unsupervised children, 24/7 

Fun facts: 

•  Thomas Taylor illustrated the cover art for the original paperback version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone.

•  Eerie-on-Sea was inspired by Taylor’s hometown of Hastings in East Essex, UK. You can read about it here.

•  This is the first book in a trilogy. Publishers fought over the publishing rights, with Walker Books the ultimate winner.

I loved writing this review of Malamander. Do you think it’s a key book for your child?

Mumlyfe book reviews use affiliate links. You can find out how they work here.

Written by Bron Maxabella

Bron is the founder of Mumlyfe and is so happy to welcome you here. Bron has been writing in the Australian parenting space as Maxabella for more than seven years and is mum to three mostly happy kids and wife to one mostly happy husband. Mostly happy is a win, right?

We’re very social

More for you

Here’s why back to school is so overwhelming for mums

Here’s why back to school is so overwhelming for mums

Here's the dilemma: on the one hand, you are unbelievably thrilled that the kids are going back to school. It's time to get them back into a useful routine, one where they are learning and growing, being social and where their time is just kind of organised into a...

11 tips for Year 7 newbies from older high school kids

11 tips for Year 7 newbies from older high school kids

My youngest is starting high school in February, so I thought we'd gather some tips for Year 7 kids from older friends. It actually physically hurts me to write such a ridiculous sentence. How can all three of my babies be in actual big school? That makes me very......

Affiliate links

From time to time Mumlyfe uses affiliate links.  It means that Mumlyfe may recieve a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchse using the link.  YOu can find out more about how it works here.

You may also like


Slow cooker butter chicken

Slow cooker butter chicken

You're going to love this slow cooker butter chicken. My kids love butter chicken but before we all decided that butter was a good thing (happy days), I used to panic at the thought of them eating it. It just sounds so… lardy. Then I discovered that butter chicken...

Are you neglecting the most powerful act of self-care?

Are you neglecting the most powerful act of self-care?

Many of us are (rightfully) focused on taking care of our health, eating nourishing whole foods and trying to be active … while meditating and flossing and taking some time of disconnection, away from devices. These are each a wonderful act of self-care, and they...



  1. How to keep older kids reading (and why they really need to)| Mumlyfe - […] Start with these – I’m picking Catch a Falling Star and Malamander as two books which will pop up on many…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This