Corydon and the Island of Monsters, by Kristen B., P.1
Corydon and the Island of
Monsters by Tobias Druitt
‘Corydon and the Island of Monsters’ is a book written jointly by a mother and son team under the name of Tobias Druitt, and was published first in 2005 in the UK. The mother-son combo decided to write after the son, Michael Prewett (14 years old), was excluded with the rest of his class from a writing project the school was undertaking. Their little venture developed into this curious, touching story, which examines the properties of love and the human mind in a straightforward, realistic (kind of) way.
The book is a work of fiction, set on a remote island in ancient Greece and taking from the myths and famous figures of that time; Perseus, the Olympian gods, Medusa, the Minotaur, etc. But it seems to use these elements only to portray a most truthful account of human greed, cowardice, and the fallibility of our minds. However, at the same time it shows the workings of compassion and the different types of love. In the prologue to the book, the mother behind Tobias Druitt, Diane Purkiss, explains: “You could say that Corydon comes from the whole of our lives together as mother and son. For it’s a book about mothers and sons, really, about how difficult and how important that love can be.” I hadn’t realized until after I read the book that this was true. In retrospect I could see how everything came back to family.
Still, that didn’t mean the book was mushy and jaded. It was clear and showed everyone’s faults, the good guys, the bad guys and the in-between, and could even be considered graphic at times! For instance, 16 pages into the book, one of the main characters is vividly described clawing open the throats of a doe and her baby. On page 162, the Harpy, one of the group of monsters who had banded together to protect themselves against an army of over 10,000, is crushed and burned to death by a metallic giant. “Corydon shuddered as he heard the death-cry… The Harpy’s body slid to the ground, no more than a few blackened feathers and a pile of ashy bones.” Then again, the writing occasionally seems so simple and clear, a child could have been writing it.
The other big aspect the book offers up is the classic switch, in which the standard good guys are shown to be selfish, greedy, cowardly, heartless, or revenge bent while the old fashioned baddies turn out to be good people… or at least better people. In the book, even the gods were not spared this. This kind of perspective is always attractive when you’re looking for something unconventional, different and interesting.
For the most part, the book written with the clarity mentioned earlier. It was not written to be funny, but it’s not completely devoid of humor. Perseus, one of the many neglected sons of Zues, assembles an army from similarly greed driven volunteers and attacks Corydon’s home, intending to destroy all monsters as a cry for the attention of his immortal father and glory from the public. Perseus has lured the volunteers with promises of a “Golden Hoard”, supposedly an enormous treasure the monsters had been stealing and protecting for years. The guarantee of money and glory attracted many, and the peer pressure to join as the army became a fad pushed others to as well. This was, I believe, probably the most humor in the book; the marketing of the “Golden Hoard” and the “Golden Hoard Monster Quest,” (as Persues called the search-and-destroy mission) was highly comical and reminiscent of advertisements and trend today. There were even ‘limited edition’, ‘hand carved’ collectable figurines!
Probably what I didn’t like about the book was the perplexing under-plot of The Staff, a powerful weapon from Hades’s realm which turned out to be integral, but was overpowered by everything else. It seemed mixed in haphazardly with the plot, and caused events to pop up that only served to be confusing. It did kind of became clearer near the end, though.
To sum it up, Corydon offers a unique, clear portrayal of love and prejudice. It shows you both sides of the story, and the importance of love and having a family. The monsters couldn’t have survived without each other and the bonds they formed. For while they started off held in separate cages, weak, on a pirate ship being gawked at by terrified and hate-filled humans, when they broke out and became a family they were strong. I think it was written not only well, but in an interesting and unique way. I would recommend this book to anybody willing to read it!