BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: Beyond the Odyssey
Author: Maz Evans
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: April 2018
Most Suitable For: Years 4-6
Fans of the Who Let The Gods Out series by queen of comedy storytelling Maz Evans will be delighted that the third instalment, Beyond the Odyssey, publishes this week.
True to form, this book is a hoot from start of finish, taking you on a roller-coaster ride that is packed with action, humour and some highly poignant moments too.
We pick up the story with young Elliot’s life going from bad to worse. With his mum’s condition rapidly deteriorating, his house full of larger-than-life immortals who are almost impossible to keep hidden, his dad (whom Elliot is unsure whether to trust) now out of prison and the nagging feeling of unfinished business in his quest to find the four Chaos Stones, poor Elliot has a lot on his mind. Not to mention the collective meddling of irritating school teachers, ultimate nosy neighbour Patricia Porshley-Plum and visiting social workers attempting to assess Elliot’s home life.
Despite all of this, Elliot is a steely and determined hero and alongside his ongoing quest to save the world he becomes highly motivated to do whatever it takes to find a magical potion that, if rumours prove to be true, will be able to cure his mum of her dementia. Along with the hilarious cast of greek gods, Elliot embarks upon a quest of ‘epic’ proportions that leads him to meet some of the incredible monsters and heroes from Homer’s Odyssey, although each one has been given a thoroughly modern and hilarious twist. Entrepreneurial Odysseus, for example, has become the CEO of corner-cutting airline Don’tcAIR, whose motto is ‘no frills, more thrills’ and witch-goddess Circe is a highly-charged working mum trying juggle the demands of business and family life. Then there is the highly paranoid cyclops Polyphemus, who surrounds himself with every security gadget going. There is so much laugh-out-loud humour in the characterisation in Beyond The Odyssey and whether you know your Greek mythology or not, the hilarious cast will leave you in stitches at the witty puns, visual comedy and many in-jokes.
As well as Maz Evans’ fantastically fun brand of observational humour, the story is highly emotional in parts too, with tears of laughter giving way to tears of sadness at times. Elliot’s mum is seriously ill and one thing that is not funny is the harsh reality of her early onset dementia and Elliot’s experiences of having to become a young carer. Many readers will relate to Elliot’s sense that life is tough, even if not all readers relate to his exact situation. One aspect of this series that I particularly love is how the comical cast of mythological characters represent the incredible role that stories can play in providing much-needed comic relief and escapism for readers young and old.
The storytelling in Beyond The Odyssey is so clever and witty and I thoroughly recommend this superb action-packed adventure as a ‘totally optimal’ choice to read aloud in upper KS2. All that is left now is to wait for the fourth and final instalment and I for one am really looking forward to finding out what happens to Elliot next.
Find Beyond the Odyssey online or from any good bookshop or library, or if you are yet to read the others in the series, start at the beginning with Who Let the Gods Out.
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Many thanks to the publisher for kindly sending me a review copy of this book.