Mermedusa by Thomas Taylor

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Mermedusa is the fifth and final book in the Eerie-on-Sea fantasy series. Herbie and Violet are coopted to help a team creating a podcast called Anomolous Phenomena, which plans to investigate the monstrous creatures and all the strange goings on in the town. Professor Newtiss, from the podcast team, seems to know quite a lot already and wants Herbie and Violet’s help to find the Deepest Secret. This has something to do with the notoriously evil, Sebastian Eels, and Kraken gold. Maybe Herbie and Violet will discover the truth about their own past too. They are compelled to solve these puzzles and go on a chilling adventure out into the stormy harbour and the Dismal Beacon lighthouse. They go on to face scary encounters with the monstrous sea creature, the Malamander and Sebastian Eels. There are even more challenges in the terrifying Netherways of Eerie-on-Sea. Finally, the mysteries from the entire series are revealed in the final chapters.  

This series was such a joy to read. Thomas Taylor creates such a fantastic setting with wonderful endearing (plus evil), larger than life characters. The narrative is through Herbie’s point of view and he becomes more self-assured, willing to take risks and witty over the series. He remains kind and empathetic throughout. The repartee between Violet and Herbie deepens their camaraderie and our fondness for them. There are moments which are genuinely scary but the overall tone is optimistic and brave. Taylor’s writing reminded me of the playfulness of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The short chapters with cliff hanging finishes are great audience pleasers. As an adult reader I looked forward to each of the new books in the Eerie-on-Sea series and imagine it would be a great pleasure to read them aloud to a class or child in the middle grades.

Themes: Fantastic creatures, Bravery, Friendship, Adventure.

Jo Marshall