Flyntlock Bones: The Ghost of Scarletbeard / Leo’s Map of Monsters: The Shrieking Serpent

Flyntlock Bones: The Ghost of Scarletbeard
Derek Keilty, illustrated by Mark Elvins
Scallywag Press

With the distinct lack of parrot messengers to the Black Hound, crew members Amy and Flint are despairing about where their next meal is coming from, when a mysterious visitor appears asking to buy the ship from Captain Watkins. Fortunately the bemused Captain turns the supposed merchant sailor down; but with little else to do, the two young friends sneak off the ship for a spot of exercise. Suddenly they spy a newspaper stand with the headlines of the Bohemia Times which reads “Countess of Bohemia jewels stolen.”

Back they go to their ship and so begins another case for the pirate investigators.

Having obtained a copy of the newspaper, the Captain together with Flint and Amy head off to visit the Countess, who the youngsters learn, gave the Cap’n his first case as a pirate investigator. The Countess says that she knows who the thief was, once again none other than Scarletbeard, scariest pirate that ever sailed the seas and the original stealer of her jewels, who Cap’n Watkins knows full well is dead beneath the waves. A ghost then? …

The only place to look for those is Davy Jones’s Locker, so now the crew must descend to the murky depths of the Mystic Sea to search for the dastardly being. But he isn’t there so where can he be? Ghost-napped perhaps?

The grisly plot twists and turns but all ends happily for the crew of the Black Hound in this, the third of a terrific trilogy that is full of humour, action and piratical lingo. With plenty of super black and white illustrations by Mark Evans adding to the fun, this piratical tale will appeal to both girls and boys.

Leo’s Map of Monsters: The Shrieking Serpent
Kris Humphrey, illustrated by Pete Williamson
Oxford Children’s Books

As Apprentice Guardian, it’s Leo Wilder’s role to ensure that the monsters inhabiting the forest never roam too near to the village; moreover, nobody must know about them apart from the Guardian Henrik and Village Chief, Gilda.

Now after a period of monster inactivity, Leo learns from Henrik that the supply of precious stones with which the lad keeps himself safe, has run out. Consequently, he must go and search for more in the Endless Mines, a labyrinth of tunnels beneath Mammoth Peak. If this doesn’t sound scary enough, Henrik then mentions the Shrieking Serpent, a creature with hearing and sight so sensitive it’s impossible for a living being to pass undetected. All Henrik can offer for protection is a small bottle of powder that when ignited can temporarily blind the Serpent, that and the help of Leo’s Leatherwing friend, Scarla, plus a couple of maps.

With a swamp containing Goretusks to negotiate, forest people lurking (mostly unfriendly ones) and, when he finally reaches his destination, the question of getting the stones from beneath the waterfall and swimming up with them, there’s an enormous challenge ahead. Does Leo possess the special kind of bravery required to do all of that? Perhaps, with Scarla’s assistance and that of an unexpected source.

Again Kris Humphrey delivers a cracking tale with just enough frights to keep readers gripped without causing nightmares, and with Pete Williamson’s splendidly expressive illustrations to make the story even more accessible and exciting, this will be devoured by fans. Those new to the series might want to start at the first bookThe Armoured Goretusk however.

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