Sunday, 7 April 2013

Can't touch this...without feeling nauseous

Stinky Mandrake's Castle has seen better days - 31 years ago, perhaps, when it was first bought by the school?
It's a stains 'n' cellotape special

with torn, tattered and soapy pages

so welcoming to a young reader

because not only is it delightful to touch

but it features Alan Tremaine

            Who? What? Why?

Mandrake's Castle
(from Tim and the Hidden in Grime Illustrations series)

A double whammy of rubbishness. Gross to touch with pages so frayed and soapy that they're difficult to find, let alone turn. And the story is incredibly boring, despite Tim and his friends being locked up in a castle by creepy Mandrake. It also makes little sense when another creepy man named Alan Tremaine turns up at the end without any explanation, and invites Tim and friends into his house. Have they learnt their don't-go-into-strangers' houses-ever-again lesson? Of course not. They accept even though no-one has made any reference to this Alan Tremaine in the previous 30 odd pages. And weirder still, the writer insists on referring to him as Alan Tremaine for the remainder of the book, believing that children are fascinated by this Alan Tremaine and his every movement. So we have a whole paragraph dedicated to Alan Tremaine making a cup of tea and setting it on a table in excruciating detail. On a par with Sammy's New Yellow Jumper

Samuel's verdict: I don't like reading it. It smells. I can't find the pages to turn.

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