I discovered a mammoth of a book called Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow a few years ago and couldn't believe that it wasn't more known. I wrote a rave review about it on my own blog and since then, as if by magic, it's been reissued and a film was made based on the story in the form of Boxtrolls. I was even lucky enough to get an author interview with Alan Snow and was left all flustered afterwards.
I've pushed this book onto as many people as I can and will gladly shout about it as much as possible because it's an amazing mid-grade book that needs to be discovered by more people. I could continue to gush about it but I think I should explain a little about it first.
Here Be Monsters was first published in 2005 and was released in the form of the first volume of The Ratbridge Chronicles (Ratbridge being the location for story). It's a kooky world made up of human beings, trolls that wear boxes like clothes, cheese that roam the countryside, rats that run a dry-cleaning service from a pirate ship, cabbage-headed underground beings and women that love to live their lives dressed up and existing as bunnies. With a collection of characters like that, you can imagine just how wonderfully nuts the plot is.
This books isn't just a brilliantly written book; it's also gorgeously illustrated by Alan Snow himself and is filled with lovely doodles and sketches within the story to add comedy and delight to each chapter. I loved turning each new page and finding a little Boxtroll strolling around amongst the words before me.
I would recommend this book to fans of Roald Dahl; especially the manic worlds of The Twits and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well as those who loved the Harry Potter books and want something a bit lighter and with a real British sense of humour. If you've seen the film The Boxtrolls, I urge you to go an by the book. There is a new abridged edition in bookshops right now or try and seek out the large tome and enjoy every ounce of it. This book is beautiful in it's simplicity but sublime for its ridiculousness.
Step into Ratbridge and become a kid again completely guilt-free.