The Grimstones by Asphyxia
Allen and Unwin, 2012.
Hatched ISBN 978-1-74237-688-2
Mortimer revealed ISBN 978-1-74237-689-9
Described as a gothic fairytale, the Grimstones a quirky, small novel, immediately made me curious. These small books are illustrated with both puppets and people and the author's name Asphyxia is certainly unique. It was only when I searched the internet that I discovered that The Grimstones is based on a puppet show with the author as one of the two puppeteers and an actor in the show.
Hatched, the first book, introduces us to the Grimstone family through Martha Grimstone, a young girl, lonely since the death of her father and the resulting incurable grieving of her mother, Velvetta. Martha would like to follow her grandfather's footsteps into the world of magic but even though she has been forbidden, she dabbles in a spell creating an egg which hatches into an unusual and remarkable brother.
Mortimer revealed continues Martha's quest to discover how her father died. No one in the family is willing to give an explanation, so she decides with the help of Crumpet, her 'hatched brother', to find her own answers.
These stories are unique and fascinating to read. The puppets are gothic yet appealing and the small sets used in the puppet play are cleverly constructed and a doll house lover's dream. There are some interesting oddities in the book such as the embalmed father Mortimer lying in his open coffin, visited by both Velvetta and Martha and Martha's creation of the three legged child, Crumpet.
I enjoyed reading both these original stories and I predict they will be popular with 8 to 12 year olds, in particular, girls. For some background information on the puppet show on which the books are based visit here.