The Maker of Monsters
written by Lorraine Gregory
cover art by Meg Hunt
published by OUP May 2019
248 pages in paperback
adventure, heart and downright great writing
Summary from publishers’ website
Brat has always lived in the isolated castle on the island, unwillingly taking care of the vicious creatures that his master creates. But then the unthinkable happens. The monsters get out. Now Brat must overcome his fears, and venture into the world he has hidden from his whole life. For the fate of everyone rests on his shoulders alone. . .
A Reader’s perspective
Just have a look at that cover – fabulous, isn’t it? Meg Hunt has conjured up lots of quirkiness, eyeballs, tentacles and colour. Exactly right for a book with monsters, peril and humour. Did you notice the stitches? Clever – when the story is (loosely) based on Frankenstein. What you can’t see is the sheen on the rain and lightning. I’d say that, together with the warmer colours, suggest the hope that pulls you through the book.
Now read that tagline: The hardest monsters to fight are the ones inside ourselves. Such a brilliant topic for discussion. Our hero* is a classic underdog battling both the effects of years of being demeaned, and now real monsters.
(*Does Brat even have a ‘real’ name?)
But Brat is not alone – he has Tingle and Sherman. The value of friendship is strong in this book. Perfect for its young readers.
I can’t help it, but as a teacher in a previous life, I delight in books that have creative possibilities. There are lots here: both Art & DT in creating ‘monsters’, fabulous creative writing in describing and naming new ones, Drama in acting them out, and Geography involving islands and tunnels, deserts and rivers. All good stuff for school or home.
If you loved Mold and the Poison Plot as much as I did, you’ll be thrilled by The Maker of Monsters. It’s not a sequel – but has as much adventure, heart and downright great writing as Lorraine Gregory’s début.
A Writer and Editor’s View (some spoilers possible):
- put-up-on main character is credibly nervy – no superhero antics
- loyalty to Tingle and Sherman is not only endearing, and has two payoffs
- jeopardy of what happens after the main evil is vanquished is a great touch
- realisation of the further consequences by the reader and Brat himself is skilfully handled
- 1st person present tense – energetic, adventurous tone
- lyrical at points
- vocabulary ranges pleasingly from simple to complex
- names are an interesting mash-up of etymology
- reflects the author’s own glorious mélange of cultures