by Phillip Gwynne
reviewed by Sarah Custance
Phillip Gwynne has written many books in different genres that have achieved much critical acclaim such as his first novel ‘Deadly Unna?’, the picture book ‘Brothers from a Different Mother’, the junior fiction books ‘Jetty Rats’ and ‘Michael’, the young adult novel ‘Swerve’ and now this new middle-grade novel ‘The Lords of Melody’.
‘The Lords of Melody’ focuses on Suzi Lord and her rather unusual family. It’s not just that they live in the worst house on a very posh street, or that her parents (who at one point were in the most famous Rock Band in the country) prefer to be called Miss Katy and Strum rather than mum and dad, or even that Suzi’s older sister, Janis, feels the need to lie to her posh school friends about being on a scholarship.
It’s more that things just keep steadily getting more and more unusual, like when the grumpy ghost of Suzi’s uncle (the drummer in the family band) keeps making appearances on her iPad to give her unwanted advice, that their first guest to rent out their spare room on ZedBedZ is actually their wayward grandfather, or that a protest has been started by a large group of the neighbours against the Lord family.
Suzi is used to strange things, and under normal circumstances she would be able to handle all of these rising issues, but when she breaks her leg in the first soccer match of the season it seems like the breaking point for a lot more than her future sporting fame.
So when her bossy ghost uncle gets her to finally pick up a set of drumsticks, it will definitely be a turning point but for better or for worse?
This is a n engaging read with enough weird things happening to keep you hooked until the end. I really wanted to like this book, and for the most part I did. What’s not to like about iPad ghosts and ex rock’n’roll parents? However, the book was really let down in its editing (or lack thereof). At one point they call the main character Janis (her sister’s name) instead of Suzi and as this was not at all explained I have to assume it was a mistake. For a paragraph the grandfather’s name goes from ‘Jock’ to ‘Jack’, and mixed in with a few awkwardly worded sentences and grammatical errors (how hard is it to remember to put in quotation marks when your characters are speaking?) it turns quite a fun book into a bit of a jolting read. I so wanted to be drawn into this wacky world but at every mistake I was harshly pushed out. I can forgive a few discrepancies but not so many that it made me wonder about the proofreading and editing.
Despite these concerns it still is an interesting book if you don’t think too much about the likelihood of certain scenarios or the full lack of closure at the end. You will find an enjoyable, relaxed read about finding yourself, unlikely friendships, and loving your family despite your differences.
Recommended for graduates of the ‘Dork Diaries’ series by Rachel Renee Russell.
Puffin Books 2019 Paperback $16.99 272 pages ISBN 9780143796459