Brian Patten and Chris Riddell bring the mythical tale of Beowulf back to life in ‘Monster Slayer’ a thrilling new book in the Little Gems series from Barrington Stoke. This book is a thing of beauty and I will immediately captivate the reader. The shiny foiled Grendel on the cover contrasting against a stark black background hints at the darkness that lies inside. With stunning endpapers featuring the silhouette of Beowulf and the neon interiors highlighting Chris Riddell’s striking illustrations it is a visual delight.
When you open the pages you are drawn into this terrible tale of good versus evil. The monster Grendel has been awoken from his centuries old sleep by the celebrations of the townsfolk. Enraged by their happiness he wreaks misery upon them, forcing them out of their homes into the shadows of the forest living like wild animals with a constant fear of death surrounding them. Fierce warriors come and go with magic weapons but nobody is able to defeat the monster, all who oppose Grendel are crushed and their bones line his nest. Years go by but one day a mysterious boat sails over the horizon and Beowulf arrives to face the monster. Can Beowulf do what no warrior has been able to do before him and overcome the terrible Grendel?
‘Monster Slayer’ is beautifully written with rich, descriptive language conjuring up Grendell’s world of putridness and decay. As he leaves his lair and goes forth to destroy the people’s joy. “even the shadows recoiled from Grendel as he flowed through the night like poison spilt from a cup.” The vividness of the words stirs up a feeling of dread and tension in the reader and the haunting song of the monster which repeats throughout the book adds to the sense of despair. If you are looking for a book to inspire young writers then this would be a perfect start the words wrap themselves around you and you get lost in the centuries old story. Chris Riddell’s illustrations provide a dramatic accompaniment to Brian’s words capturing the terror of Grendel’s reign and the courage of the hero Beowulf in facing this deadly demon. Brilliantly dark, filled with monsters, heroes and the constant threat of danger this story will prove to be irresistible to the reader.
To find out more about the Little Gems series you can read my blog here.
To find out more about the Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell you can visit his website here.
Thank you to Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of this book.