I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Top Shelf on August 6, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Humor, Middle Grade
Buy the Book • Goodreads
In a fantastical 1860s England, every quiet little township is terrorized by a ferocious monster -- much to the townsfolk’s delight! Each town’s unique monster is a source of local pride, not to mention tourism.
Each town, that is... except for one. Unfortunately for the people of Stoker-on-Avon, their monster isn’t quite as impressive. In fact, he’s a little down in the dumps. Can the morose Rayburn get a monstrous makeover and become a proper horror? It’s up to the eccentric Dr. Charles Wilkie and plucky street urchin Timothy to get him up to snuff, before a greater threat turns the whole town to kindling.
Monsters of all ages are sure to enjoy this tale about life’s challenges, the power of friendship, and creative redemption, packed with epic battles and plenty of wild beasts!
First my reluctant reader 7-year-old read this book in two days (and only two because I made him stop reading and go to bed), then it was my turn and it was easy to see how this graphic novel captured his attention so intensely. The artwork is vibrant and full of details that will appeal to all ages, the language isn’t too difficult for a younger reader (or too bland for an older one), and it takes everything you know about monsters, tips it upside down, and shoves it in a hole in the ground.
The first monster we meet is Tentacular, a horrifyingly scary monster who rages into town, knocking things over and terrifying (and exciting) the villagers. The tourists from Stoker-on-Avon are thrilled to be so scared, which is pretty strange, right? On their way home the tourists are still talking about how awesome Tentacular was.
First off, monsters have names. Or nick-names. It doesn’t really much matter, because Tentacular? His friends all call him Noodles. It’s hard to be afraid of a monster with a name like that! And Rayburn, the monster from Stoker-on-Avon goes to Noodles for help when Dr. Wilkie, a shamed and out of work scientist, and Timothy, the town’s street urchin/newscaller, convince him to ask for help with his minor self-esteem problem. Because monsters have friends, you guys! And they’re not nearly as scary as they seem. In fact, all that scaring is just a way to reassure the villagers that they’re strong enough to protect the town if needed.
Unfortunately, that little road trip means that the town is in need of being protected, so they rush back to save the town from the monster used to frighten other monsters: the Murk. The Murk takes on Tentacular with no problem, leaving Rayburn to deal with this mess on his own… Well, except for the help he gets from Timothy and Wilkie, of course. Rayburn faces his fears, overcomes his self-esteem problems, and winds up as a strong, confident monster who is willing and able to save his town (and get back into the scaring game).
This was a wildly entertaining read, and it was a smash hit with my son and me. It’s great for any age, for reading together, or on your own, and even if you’re a little bit scared of monsters, this is still the book for you. After all, monsters are just people, too. And some of them have some funny names, others do cannonballs into lakes for fun, and they will always protect their town.