|Cover illustration by Nicola Robinson|
Is your home infested with anything you would like to have removed? A stranded sea serpent, perhaps, or a smelly troll, werewolf or baby dragon?
If so, you may like to know about ReallyWeirdRemovals.com, who specialise in the safe (and, on the whole, humane) removal of such creatures to places better suited to their idiosyncratic lifestyles and eating habits. The website is a real one, and you are invited to email them with your requests for help. (I don't think they deal with more common pests such as rats and wasps' nests, though.)
Luca, aged twelve, and his sister Valentina, eleven, live on an island called Eilean, off the west coast of Scotland. They have a rather scatty and delightful Italian mother who puts homemade pasta in their lunch boxes and lives, Luca tells us, in a world of her own, venturing out every now and then to look after her children. Luca's father is a writer who spends a lot of time alone, creating a series that aims to be as successful as Harry Potter - and, meanwhile, neglecting his own family just a bit.
The story begins when Luca's Uncle Alistair turns up in a blue van, announcing the set-up of his new pest-removal company. The children soon discover, however, that the pests to be removed are not the common or garden kind but supernatural creatures like kelpies and trolls.
Once the parnaormal element is introduced, the story bounces along, throwing up creatures yet more weird and wonderful with every chapter. Not all the beasties are dangerous and some are very appealing, like the female zeuglodon and her baby, Finlay. There's also Camilla, a lonely girl ghost who has been thrown out of the home she used to haunt and is looking for a family to take her in.
I love the way that many of the creatures come from Scottish folklore and mythology. The Luh, for example, is a Scottish werewolf. Kelpies look like ordinary women but can turn into white horses and are fond of eating children. Selkies are half-seal, half-human. Even the inevitable vampires have a Scottish flavour - they are known as Baobhan Sith and, with their long red hair, chalky faces, deer hooves and blood-sucking talons, could give some of the more conventional literary vampires a run for their money.
Life on a small Scottish island comes fully alive as we follow the adventures of Luca and his family. There's a longstanding argument between Uncle Alistair and his brother Duncan, Luca's father, which centres around the disappearance many years ago of their parents - lost, it seems, in an unfortunate time-fold experiment. The family relationships are warmly and convincly portrayed and contrast nicely with the scary stuff.
There is nothing too frightening here - just enough to provide excitement and chills. Young people from around 9 upwards will enjoy this greatly. Floris Books are a thriving independent publisher based in Edinburgh and this book is one of their 'Kelpies' series. I hope it gets the wide audience and enthusiastic response it deserves. I have a feeling more will follow!
(Just a final note to the copy-editor: Please change the last word of the book from 'I' to 'me'. I don't expect the ungrammaticality will bother many children, but it stuck in my craw, coming, as it did, at the end of a tasty feast!)
Title: Really Weird Removals.com
Author: Daniela Sacerdoti
Cover Illustrations: Nicola Robinson
Publisher: Floris Books, Edinburgh (Kelpies imprint)
Publication Date: October 2012
Cover Price: £6.99 UK
On Amazon UK
Review by Rosalie Warren, author of Coping with Chloe
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