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Monday, December 18, 2006

Here Be Monsters!

Here be Monsters
This is one of the strangest books I've ever read - but I just had to read the whole thing. Here be Monsters!, written by Alan Snow, begins with Young Arthur entering the town of Ratbridge from an underground home. Young Arthur is wearing a sort of machine that enables him to fly and hover over the town. His purpose for coming above ground is to collect food for himself and his grandfather.

There are some truly different creatures inhabiting this world - box trolls, cabbage heads, and rabbit women to name a few. Rats are pirates, cheese are creatures that are hunted. There is a secret "Ratbridge Cheese Guild" led by the evil Snatcher, who are kidnapping creatures to advance an sinister plot.

Young Arthur becomes trapped in Ratbridge. A former judge, Wilbury Nibble, QC, along with other characters thwart the evil plans of Snatcher, enabling the young boy to reunite with his grandfather and solve a mystery. The story twists and turns, and while sometimes hard to follow, ends satisfyingly. The illustrations help the reader imagine this world, and also keep the story moving. Very helpful is the "Johnson's Taxonomy of Trolls and Creatures" at the beginning of the book. This gives an understanding of the different characters inhabiting the story.

Here Be Monsters! is a different sort of story - a long story. Readers of Lemony Snickett's books would probably enjoy this one. Since this is only volume 1 of The Ratbridge Chronicles, we can look forward to more visits to Ratbridge and its environs.

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