Young Herbert (Herbie) Lemon works as the Lost and Founder from his small, cluttered office in the Grand Nautilus Hotel in Eerie-on-Sea, a resort town shut down for the winter season. Having mysteriously washed up as a baby in a lemon crate during a shipwreck some twelve years earlier, Herbie has no family to call his own other than the assorted cast of hotel employees and community members who have watched over him since his arrival in the town. His job is to handle all personal items left behind by hotel guests, either by reuniting them with their owners or classifying and storing them for future retrieval. He is free to use or dispose of any items left after one hundred years as he sees fit, and he sometimes uses such items as currency with the local restaurateur, the bookseller and other vendors.
Herbie loves his job and takes it very seriously, so he is mightily surprised one day to find an intruder in his office space–a young girl about his age named Violet Parma. She herself has arrived in Eerie-on-Sea searching for information on her parents, who left her behind as a baby when they disappeared in a rowboat in the mists of night. She does have some fascinating clues which she uses to entice Herbie into helping her find out what happened. As the two work together to solve the mystery, they encounter a fantastical creature called a Malamander who holds the secret to granting one’s deepest desire. As other people in the town race to solve the same mystery as Herbie and Violet, tensions reach a fever pitch and Herbie finds his mettle seriously tested.
This middle-grade novel has all the charm, delight and wild imagination of an early Harry Potter book. Because of that it will appeal to readers of all ages. There is nothing objectionable in it and much to commend it in the way of gloriously intricate and imaginative illustrations.
Buy this one.