Mort the Meek #2: Mort the Meek and the Monstrous Quest – Rachel Delahaye

Illustrations – George Ermos

You survived your first trip to Brutalia, an island that’s just as brutal as its name advertises. There are Grot Bears, who are as likely to squeeze you to death as they are to rip you to shreds. There are hungry ravens, who are always on the lookout for some tasty eyeballs. There’s the stench. And if all of that isn’t punishment enough for you, make sure you stick around for Punishment of the Day. 

Now that you’ve been reminded of what a terrible place Brutalia is, why would you voluntarily return? 

Is it because of Mort, the loveable pacifist who is so good at recruitment that the Pacifist Society of Brutalia has recently increased its membership by 50%? (There are now 1.5 members.)

Is it your fascination with the Queen’s fashion sense? Tarantula leg eyelashes are not for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure.

Is it the promise of a gigantic sea monster? It’s the sea monster, isn’t it.

Mort has an excuse to escape the confines of his horrid island home so it’s no surprise that he takes it. It’s time to set sail for the Salty Sea. We’re going on a treasure hunt. 

Bonus points for Mort if he finds his father and siblings, Gosh and Gee, who have been missing at sea for two weeks.

I missed Ono, who I’d hoped would be joining Mort for this adventure. However, I quickly grew to love Punky, the daughter of a rock crusher who is as tough as nails. Like the ones that make up her face piercings. 

This is a “story riddled with suckers”, with so many whys it could rival a toddler on a good day. Oh, and it’s prodadly important to rememder that d’s and b’s are interchangeadle. 

Taking over from the chatty ravens who introduced each chapter of the first book are Larry and Bruce, lobsters who have somehow managed to avoid the dinner table thus far. I initially missed the ravens but Larry and Bruce are also entertaining, mishearing and misinterpreting all manner of topics. 

“Bored, bored, bored.”

“To pass the time, shall we have a go at some good insults?”

“Okay, I’ll start: chips.”

“What do you mean, chips?”

“Good in salt.”

“Forget it.” 

George Ermos’ illustrations once again highlight the danger and drudgery, as well as the humour and hope. Wait. Hope? Are you sure that belongs in this book?

I particularly loved the expressive lobsters and the fearsome sea monster.

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Does it sound like a threat if I say that if there’s not a third book in this series I will be having conversations with the Queen about a suitable Punishment of the Day? I must have spent too much time in Brutalia; I’m starting to sound like a local.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Stripes Publishing, an imprint of Little Tiger Group, for the opportunity to read this book.

P.S. Readers with emetophobia, beware. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Around the unfriendly, rocky island of Brutalia, the waves are awash with brave sea-farers, on a treasure hunt for their demanding queen. Among them is Mort, but rather than hunt for treasure, he’s more interested in looking for his family who are lost at sea. Unfortunately, his shipmate Punky has her eyes firmly on the prize.
But when the pair find the tentacle of a mythical sea creature, their adventure takes a dramatic turn. Is this the prize-winning treasure Punky and the queen seek? Or could it be a monstrous twist in Mort’s rescue mission?

Mort the Meek #1: Mort the Meek and the Ravens’ Revenge – Rachel Delahaye

Illustrations – George Ermos

Here we are in Brutalia, where there are two towers, both of which look like they could come crashing down into the Salty Sea at any moment.

The Queen and King were horrible.

The people were violent.

And the ravens were ravenous.

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As the sign tells you in no uncertain terms, you are not welcome here. Not that it’s a place you’d want to go on vacation; the people are perpetually hungry, rule breakers suffer unimaginable punishments (like wasp baths) and then there’s Brutalia’s motto:

LIVE OR DIE

Trust me when I say you’re more likely to die than live if you’re foolish enough to visit. There’s so much death here that there’s an official Body Carrier. And a Body Lugger. I doubt you would want either job.

So why do we want to hear any more about this horrific place? Well, because it’s where Mort lives. This is Mort.

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He’s got a lot on his mind this week. Mort is a pacifist, which is sort of inconvenient, especially considering he’s Brutalia’s new Royal Executioner. His first job is to execute his “most delicious-smelling friend”, Weed.

And so the plot thickens.

This was a delightful story. Well, as delightful as it could be with everyone hungry and fearing for their lives, and the ravens hoping that someone will give them some eyeballs for dinner.

This is a place where a misunderstood homonym can kill you, where there’s battle cutlery and you need to be extremely careful if you encounter a Grot Bear. It’s also a place where a pacifist will try to save his best friend (and himself) from a death most brutal. Mort is an underdog I believe in and want to spend more time with.

The ravens stoles the best lines, although I’m sure they would have much preferred to have stolen some food. Their chats at the beginning of each chapter were something I quickly looked forward to.

“I’ve got an idea.”

“Can I have some of your eye, dear?”

“What? No! I said an IDEA.”

“What is it?”

“I’ve forgotten it now.”

Sometimes I find it annoying when the narrator randomly addresses the reader throughout the story but it wasn’t overdone here and it even managed to elicit some smiles from me.

Doesn’t time go fast when you’re watching other people struggle with a difficult plot!

I loved George Ermos’ illustrations. They were dark when they needed to be (they wouldn’t have scared me if I’d read this book as a kid). They also incorporated some humour, particularly when the ravens, who were my favourite characters, were featured. I thought using feathers as page breaks was a really nice touch.

There’s going to be a sequel, The Monstrous Quest.

“Well, thank the gallows for that!”

It has tentacles and it looks as though Ono, Mort’s new friend who I haven’t had anywhere near enough page time with yet, is going to be involved in the quest. I can’t wait!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Stripes Publishing, an imprint of Little Tiger Group, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The first in a wickedly funny new series about an aspiring pacifist in a brutal kingdom!

On Brutalia, violence is a way of life. Ravenous ravens circle overhead, monstrous grot bears cause chaos and the streets are bulging with brawls. But Mort isn’t like the other islanders – he’s determined to live peacefully. His struggle is made even tougher when the cruel queen appoints Mort as Royal Executioner. No one has challenged the royals and lived to tell the tale. Can Mort keep his head and outwit the queen?