Book Review: OTTER’S MOON by Susanna Bailey (Middle Grade Monday)

I received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Genre: contemporary
Age Range: Lower MG/Chapter Book
Star Rating:
Series: standalone

Synopsis:

Book cover for OTTER'S MOON:

Luke hates his life. His dad is busy with a shiny replacement family and his mum has insisted they spend their holiday on a remote Scottish island.

Then Luke meets Meg, who lives with her grandfather in a boarded-up boat house on the beach. And when together they rescue an otter pup that they name Willow, a chink of light appears in Luke’s dark and lonely days.

But danger lurks behind the beauty of Puffin Bay and soon Luke must depend upon Willow for his very survival… 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I should be upfront and say that this was an unsolicited review copy, and I am really not the target market. My mother’s note in with the book when she forwarded it on to me is a pretty good idea of why I’m not the demographic (beyond, you know, the age thing):

I’m guessing they want you to review this, even though it’s about animals?

Maybe if I liked animals more, this book would have been more engaging. If I was being non-objective, this books would have been a 1 or 2 star, but I can see why it’s a good book for others, hence the 3 star rating. For me, I just am not an animal person, so a story built around an otter, aimed at children, is never going to capture me. Given how short the book is, this took me a very long time to read.

It also didn’t help that there were a few glaring errors in the book. Like the first page saying that a Scottish Isle always had sudden, long nights, even in summer, when actually Scotland doesn’t have a true solar night in the summer, but stays in solar twilight for at least three months of the year (depending on how far north the island is). Does these seem like a small detail? Yes – except it’s a flaw that impacts a lot of the book. There are a lot of night sequences, and not being able to see is key there. It made the story very unbelievable for me because I know from experience that actually it’d be pretty bright.

On the non-animal side of the book, it does deal with some pretty big topics – depression, sickness in new-borns, family break up. It was well handled and powerfully done, and I think it’s the best bit of the book – and important discussion about issues that do impact children. If I had been more engaged by the story premise and not distracted by the errors, I think I would be raving about these themes. However, I just could not focus enough on it to have had more than a passing impression of these aspects.

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