Gargantis (Eerie-on-Sea #2), by Thomas Taylor

Malamander, by Thomas Taylor, introduced young readers to the surreal town of Eerie-on-Sea, and to Herbie, the keeper of the Lost-and-Founder office of the Hotel Nautilus, and his friend Violet, who came to the town looking for clues to her lost parents. In that first book, the two kids foiled a villainous plot of Sebastian Eels, and thought they were done with him forever. They were not.

Gargantis (Walker Books US, May 12, 2020) picks up soon after Malamander leaves off.  A storm is shaking Eerie-on-Sea to its very foundations, and its fierceness keeps growing. The fisher folk blame the awaking of the legendary Gargantis, and are desperate to send the creature back to sleep again. A mysterious hooded figure, new to town, convinces them he know how to do it (it's easy to guess this is Sebastian Eels, back from the brink of death).  When a treasure (a bottle with most unusual contents) turns up in Herbie's Lost and Found office, Herbie and Violet figure out that letting Eels and the fisher folk use it against Gargantis will just make things worse, and so they put their lives on the line to return it.

That's a very bare bones description of the plot, that doesn't come close to conveying all the rich details of the story. Eerie-on-Sea is an unforgettable place full of strange stories and strange goings-on, and the vivid storytelling plunges the reader right into the thick of things! Violet and Herbie make a great team, Violet's headstrong impulsiveness complimenting Herbie's caution well, and the dangers they face from the storms destroying the town, from death by drowning, and from Eels and the fisherfolk made dangerous by desperation, are grippingly real.

If quirky mysteries putting kids in fantastical danger in a wildly whimsical setting (a touch of steampunk, a touch of horror, many puns, a dubious saint, two plucky kids who are quicker on the uptake than any of the grownups, and monsters both out at sea and on land) sounds appealing, you'll love this series! I actually enjoyed this second book even more than the first, because all the introduction part had already been taken care of, and so there was time to reveal more of the story of the history of this strange place, and more details of that strangeness.  Though this could stand alone, it would be somewhat disorienting, so do read Malamander first!

short answer: a great cure for cabin fever!

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

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