The Beast of Grubbers Nubbin (Stitch Head) by Guy Bass and Pete Williamson
|The Beast of Grubbers Nubbin (Stitch Head) by Guy Bass and Pete Williamson|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: The continuing series of darkly humorous adventures for the under-tens. This fifth episode has more than enough monster action, vomit and mystery for the target audience.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 208||Date: June 2015|
|Publisher: Stripes Publishing|
|External links: Author's website|
It's all wrong in Castle Grotteskew. The very walls should be terrified by the monsters the Mad Professor in the basement is creating, out of various body parts and different animals. But no, the clamour of noise, the unlikely activities and horrendous appetite for food come from something else entirely – a hundred rescued human orphans. That appetite needs feeding – so it’s perfect timing for the village below the castle, Grubbers Nubbin, to have their annual podge-a-thon feast. But when Stitch Head and his human friend Arabella go to purloin some human food – there being no decent alternative – they're horrified to find something even worse than the monsters trapped in the castle above…
Years since the last Stitch Head book was launched, although following directly on from the fourth, The Spider's Lair, this is a great little lark for the under-aged goth. You have the obvious appeal of the dark mood and setting – the different creatures scaling the castle walls are met now and again, but we're firmly with Stitch Head and his problem this time round. And he's a likeable character – both he and the obvious reversal of the humans scaring the monsters are not the only things here to have the spirit of Tim Burton about them. There's not that much need for back story – I barely worried that I didn't know why Arabella was there, as she's a perfectly vicious and malevolent young madam when she wants to be.
What's more I really liked the approach to the book. I think I dismissed checking out an earlier adventure due to just not liking a copy of the front cover image. More fool me. Here we're in heavily embossed cover territory, the pages are delivered in antiquated, stained form, the artwork is great (even when shoved invisibly in between the folds of the pages) and the world has been given quirky quotes and whatnots. It's a brilliantly presented item.
And the story isn't shoddy, either. OK, the cast list if you like is a little too small for the big reveal to be up to much, but that might not apply for the target audience anyway. Before then there are spooky atmospheres, quirky characters and unusual events, all conveyed with a fine clarity and great, punchy writing. There's a PG-level darkness, a decent, underplayed sense of humour, but most importantly a more than decent plot. This might look like a fair few other franchises, but rest assured it has a character and spirit all of its own, and if the previous four books are anything like this, they're well worth investigating.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
File between the series starting with Raven Boy and Elf Girl by Marcus Sedgwick and Goth Girl: and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Beast of Grubbers Nubbin (Stitch Head) by Guy Bass and Pete Williamson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Beast of Grubbers Nubbin (Stitch Head) by Guy Bass and Pete Williamson at Amazon.com.
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