Just Imagine

The Maker of Monsters

Authored by Lorraine Gregory
Illustrated by Meg Hunt
Published by Oxford University Press

Like Lorraine Gregory’s first novel, Mold and the Poison Plot, her second offering provides equal amounts of adventure, humour and heart with an added splash of Gothicism.

Brat, our hero, is a servant to the mysterious Lord Macawber, a Dr Frankenstein-type figure who spends his days stitching together parts of various mythical creatures and animals to create terrifying monsters. Brat is an orphan who was saved as a baby by Lord Macawber when he washed up on the shore beneath his isolated castle. Brat has no friends except for two of his master’s less successful creations. Lord Macawber is building an army of monsters, and it’s up to Brat to find a way to prevent his master from destroying the nearby walled city in a vengeful and hate-filled attack.

Over the course of the story, Brat begins to realise that he’s not as useless as he thinks (or has been told) and it is this character development that gives the story its depth and heart. The book provides ample opportunity to discuss issues of confidence and self-esteem with children. Brat is a great example that true bravery does not mean being fearless, but choosing to do what is right despite being afraid.

Gregory uses rich and evocative language throughout the text, so this would be an excellent book to read and pick apart in guided reading, both group and whole class. In the very first chapter, we find the sentence:

‘Noxious, foetid breath drifts from the mouth behind me; a callused tongue licks my neck, making me shudder with disgust and horror.’

The Maker of Monsters would also be a great addition to any class library, especially to tempt any readers who have been stuck rereading Beast Quest or similar stories.