‘Monster Slayer’ by Brian Patten, illustrated by Chris Riddell

‘One dark night, the music and singing woke a monster from a swamp….’

Aaaaand, I’m hooked!

This gorgeous re-working of the classic Anglo-Saxon tale, ‘Beowulf,’ is cloaked in dark magic and mystery from the very beginning.  I defy any reader not to be sucked into this tale of maniacal monsters, malevolent magic and heroism after the opening few pages.

It tells the story of a dreadful beast named Grendel, who had lain asleep in his bone-filled lair for over one hundred years. He is awoken by the music and celebrating of lords and warriors in the Great Hall of King Hrothgar, sounds which fill Grendel with jealousy and hatred.

As Grendel metes out his bloody revenge, the kingdom falls to ruin.  That is, until a brave young warrior named Beowulf arrives from across the Danish Sea to put an end to the beast’s terrible antics.

I absolutely loved this version of the story.  It is packed full of the most amazing language and images.  One of my favourite lines is this:

“Even the shadows recoiled from Grendel as he flowed through the night like poison spilt from a cup.”

Such powerful figurative language!

The menacing and twisted illustrations provided by the fantastic Chris Riddell add further darkness and depth to the book, creating another layer of horror and despair on top of Brian Patten’s powerful re-telling.

An added bonus of this version, is that it is published by Barrington Stoke Ltd. – a brilliant publisher who specialises in creating books which are particularly accessible to dyslexic readers.  The page colour, unique font and clear layout have been specialised developed to make  reading an enjoyable experience both for dyslexic readers and those who simply enjoy a pacey, gripping read.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who loves a twisted and gruesome tale.

Library Girl.


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