Monster Hunting: Monsters Bite Back

Monster Hunting: Monsters Bite Back
Ian Mark, illustrated by Louis Ghibault

In this second of the zany adventure series, Jack, his best friend Nancy and grumpy, 200-year-old monster hunter Stoop, head off to Scotland where certain monsters are misbehaving.If you’ve read Monster Hunting for Beginners you will know that when monsters start doing that, it’s the job of monster hunters to sort them out.

The monsters in Scotland are causing trouble and making life extremely difficult for the Sisters of Perpetual Misery, the nuns who reside in the ancient Muckle Abbey.

Said nuns have such apt names as Nun the Wiser, Nun Whatsoever, None of This, None of That, Nun of the Above (what fun the author must have had inventing those and others). If they move from their home, which just happens to be above the underworld, it will be THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT.

This task is fraught with obstacles including discontented ghosts, fog goblins, strange loch monsters (maybe they’ll even encounter Nessie) and a newly established and hence rival, hunting agency, which Nancy may or may not join. Not to mention dodgy bowls of cabbage.

Can our favourite monster hunters save the day and hence, the nuns? I truly wish them the beast of Loch with this challenge.

Enormous, or rather monstrous, fun, which is added to by Louis Ghibault’s hilarious illustrations, plus the intermittent lessons about monsters provided throughout the story.

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.