The first chapter of Help! I Smell a Monster had us giggling, turning up our noses (at delightful yuckiness) and turning the page as quickly as we could to find out more – which set the pattern for the rest of this fabulous, funny and often surprising story.
Alice MacAllister is an ordinary girl with an apparently-ordinary life (minus a few inconvenient phobias) until she is sent to spend the summer in Edinburgh with her Uncle Magnus, who runs an employment agency – for monsters.
When the pastry chef at Balmoral castle (who happens to be a Cyclops) disappears, Alice finds herself thrown into a hair-raising adventure that she will need courage, cool and all the unusual talents she possesses, to survive.
The story is a monster melting-pot, featuring Greek icons like the magnificent Medusa, alongside poltergeists, a ‘baby’ Kraken, and the Selkies and Kelpies of Scottish legend, plus some crazy creatures (like Miss Pinky, a coffee-loving, social media-obsessed part-mermaid-part-cait-sith) who must have come from the author’s rich imagination.
Help! I Smell a Monster blends excitement and humour with a fizzling plot peppered with tantalising clues – for which Kim Geyer’s characterful illustrations are a perfect match. It’s an impressive, easy-to-read debut with broad age-appeal, and it would be great fun to read out loud.
Help! I Smell a Monster, by Justin Davies (Orchard)
- Justin Davies joined Roaring Reads for our Seven Stories feature last month. Read more about his writing, globe-trotting and favourite childhood stories.