Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Review: The Squickerwonkers by Evangeline Lilly

Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Hardcover
Released: November 18th, 2014
Rating: 8/10

Amazon summary:

Meet Selma of the Rin-Run Royals, a clever little girl who is spoiled to the core. One day Selma stumbles upon a band of colourful marionettes, and gets more than she bargained for. The remarkable Squickerwonkers of the fabulous Squickershow are about to teach Selma that she’ll not always get her way. 


I'm always a bit dubious when it comes to reading books written by celebrities, but I'm learning that I really needn't worry. This book has further cemented that realisation, and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to read it. I was especially excited about The Squickerwonkers when I first heard about it months ago; not just because I'm a Middle-earth nut, but because I thought it sounded dark and different. And how right I was!

I think most people will primarily know author Evangeline Lilly for her involvement in the TV show Lost and the Hobbit movie trilogy. This book is her first published work so far, and is the culmination of a lifelong passion for writing. I'm really surprised by how good it is, and I hope there are more volumes on the way - if they're anything like this, I'm in for a treat!

The Squickerwonkers is all about Selma of the Rin-Run Royals, a little girl who finds herself with a motley crue of creepy, unusual marionette puppets called the Squickerwonkers. The Squickerwonkers aren't the nicest people you've ever seen, which made them that bit more appealing to me. I like anything weird, odd, unusual to the eye, and this lot definitely fit into that category!

Evangeline Lilly's prose is so enjoyable, rhyming and literally tripping off the tongue. It's fun and easy to read, but ridiculously clever too. It actually has echoes of Neil Gaiman who as we all know, when it comes to dark, twisted stories, is the best you can get. Lilly's imagination runs wild with this story; her character names are funny, her vision of the Squickerwonkers is a sight to behold and, most importantly, she's made me want to read many more adventures featuring Selma and the Squickerwonkers.

Weta's Johnny Fraser-Allen has illustrated this book in a suitably dark manner, making every page stand out to adults and children alike. His illustrations are stylised and a little bit creepy - just like the Squickerwonkers themselves - and are the perfect companion to Lilly's writing. I enjoyed looking at every single one.

I can see The Squickerwonkers becoming a bit of a children's classic, in a similar vein to Neil Gaiman's Coraline. The unusual story is there, as are the weird creatures with strange faces and coins for eyes. I'll certainly be reading this book again and again, revelling in its delightful oddities and bizarre illustrations. I have another celebrity author to add to my 'must keep' shelves!

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