Spiderface by William Mobberley

(8.5/10)

When young Jimbo Mambo books a room with Captain and Mrs Fanshaw in their Northernville lodging house, he is gradually introduced to their bizarre social circle.

However, nothing can prepare him for Northernville’s weirdest citizens of all, Miss Susie Grubbings’ tragically, deformed brothers, Spiderface and Otis.

I have to be completely honest and admit that I did not expect much from Wil Mobberley’s book. The cover is rather creepy, the synopsis rather vague. It was therefore to my pleasant surprise and to the author’s intense credit that in Spiderface Mobberley has produced a fantasy/tragic comedy of rare charm and appealing irreverence.  It is surreal without being ridiculous, dark without being nauseous.

Trying to describe Spiderface is not an easy task – I would ask you to think of the film The Ladykillers – (the superb 1955 film starring Alec Guinness, not the awful 2004 mess starring Tom Hanks) – and imagine that it has been directed by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. The outcome of this terrifying collaboration just may have ended been Spiderface.
If you have a penchant for the surreal you will love Spiderface… if not then you probably not get past the first chapter. Luckily I do indeed have a penchant for the surreal and I found that the characters wonderful; from the innocent, naive and ever-hopeful Jimbo Mambo through to the strangely appealing Spiderface. They are all much larger than life but somehow believable. I will leave Spiderface’s brother Otis to the discovery of the reader as he is very hard to put into words…

Once the book has reached the end of its 121 pages the reader is left with a feeling of triumph and hope and we discover that it does indeed take a lot to keep a good spider down.

This book is insane and if surrealism is not your cup of tea then give this a wide berth as you might find it as funny as syphilis. This reviewer, however, found it bizarrely charming, wickedly funny and a very pleasant change from the ordinary. A nice piece of silliness in a world that takes itself far too seriously.

William Mobberley has over 15 years of experience in computer animation, preceded by a training in classical animation.

“I’m sorry Will, but this book is completely mad.” The author’s wife

“Best book I ever read!” The author’s son

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