Paul Magrs Mrs Danby and CompanyOne main review and a little one popped in for good measure today – and yes, I know I’m still reviewing books I read in January, but I will catch up with myself soon! These are both fantasy adventures involving going under the sea, but one has a pretend ghost and is rooted in reality, while the other goes off into flights of invention, giving an alternative (literary) history twist to a tale that’s already full of twists and turns. One’s old school and one’s steampunk; both were good reads, although one more substantial than the other. Well, here goes …

Paul Magrs – “Mrs Danby and Company”

(25 January 2015)

I couldn’t resist picking up a copy of Paul Magrs’ new book (even though I still yearn for the days of those early books set on estates in the North East with just a sprinkling of magic and a lot of realism); after 20 years in the business, he certainly knows what he’s doing, and he’s got a charming style that’s hard to pin down, but I’d recognise one of his paragraphs anywhere.

This is a new adventure, featuring a famous detective’s ex-housekeeper, a distinguished vampire hunter and a famed explorer and scientist who encounter one another on a strangely doomed-feeling Atlantic crossing. Undersea and other-worldly adventures ensue, with characters from the Brenda and Effie novels (including some rather sinister furniture) making the odd appearance and providing a nice little moment for long-term fans of the author, while not confusing the new reader. The triple narrative, which has nicely distinguished voices (not something that you can guarantee these days) undermines the narrators, gives the whole story and provides for some giggles.

I would recommend this to people who like their magical adventures with a side order of common-sense – where else would you find a consideration of how to get the remains of recently deceased vampires off your Good Coat? Plenty of twists and turns and there are enough unresolved details to make the way clear for a sequel – hooray!

This book will suit: people who like steampunk with a smile; Paul Magrs fans; people who like a good jolly adventure and a bit of a giggle.

No disclaimer needed: Although I have had tea with the author, I bought this book myself from Amazon. If you fancy reading it, you can find it here!

Robert Arthur – “The Secret of Skeleton Island”

(22 November 2012)

An Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators book (Book 6 in the series) – this one still has Alfred Hitchcock involved at the beginning and end, which later numbers dropped. In a departure from the usual story, Jupiter Jones, head detective, is confined to barracks with a cold, while Pete and Bob are the ones who are put into danger as they try to work out just who is trying to put a film company off using an old theme park on an island – and why. Strangers are mistrusted and a community obsessed with treasure closes ranks – who can and cannot be trusted?

This book will suit: Those who read this series in their childhood; Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys fans