Monster Hunting for Beginners

Monster Hunting for Beginners
Ian Mark, illustrated by Louis Ghibault

Monster hunting is far from easy, so says Jack and he’s in a position to know, for a scary green ogre has appeared in his garden intent on eating his Aunt Prudence. Jack is no fan of this mean woman who has turned up telling the lad that his highly protective dad has gone off on a round-the-world voyage and asked her to look after him till he returns. Very suspicious and entirely out of character for his risk-averse dad. Hmm. However, Jack seemingly kills said ogre and then looking down as instructed by a sudden voice, finds it belongs to a tiny bearded man who introduces himself as Stoop, a monster hunter of two hundred years standing. This grumpy man hands him a strange book thus making Jack his apprentice, which is far from what Jack wants; he needs to find his father not go hunting monsters. 

Nonetheless he accepts the role, is kitted out and before you can say ‘King’s Nooze’ he’s off to Cornwall where there’s a ‘Category Four ‘ emergency. Now all he has to help is that Monster Hunting for Beginners book, his wits and his catapult. Is he the hero they’re all eagerly waiting for? Perhaps young Nancy can help and Humbert the bear – he may or may not have a magic harp.

With a fair amount of burping, flatulence and delicious silliness, author Ian Mark’s debut novel is packed with danger, mayhem, marvellous beasties such as crusted hairy snot nibblers, ogres galore, wonderful characters especially Jack who is essentially just a normal kid, plus its sprinkling of traditional fairytale twists, surprises too, and Louis Ghibault’s suitably outlandish illustrations, it’s not since Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels starring Tiffany Aching that I have loved a fantasy story so much. Book two can’t come soon enough.

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