Thursday 2 December 2021

Monster Hunting for Beginners

Monster Hunting for Beginners by Ian Mark, illustrated by Louis Ghibault (Farshore) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780755504367

Reviewed by Nikki M Heath

What to do when your dad is missing, your awful aunt has been attacked by an ogre and your house has been destroyed (by the same ogre, incidentally)? Become a monster hunter, of course!  Following the long history of monster hunters (Jack and the Beanstalk inclusive), small-for-his-age Jack embarks on setting his world to rights, picking up an oddball collection of new friends along the way.

Jack is joined by a retiring monster hunter called Stoop, who introduces him to an arsenal of magical monster hunting tools, including automatically resizing clothes and a guide book linked with those carried by all other monster hunters. Later, a girl called Nancy joins the crew, and together with a couple of other fun characters, they use smarts, teamwork and plain luck to save the day.

The cute illustrations add to the text, and there’s a lot of design work in the text, too.

Squarely targeted at its middle-primary audience, the book is packed to its ogre-eyeballs with wisecracks. While amusing, at some points, character development and plot progression feel sidelined in favour of wordplay and sarcasm. For an action-packed book, this leaves it feeling curiously slow in some parts.

This book is suitable for any middle-primary kid looking for a rollicking read.  This is the first in a series, so there is the promise of more monster hunting to come.

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