Napoleon Xylophone – Frank Lambert

“Napoleon Xylophone hates his name; that’s why his friends call him Zam. He doesn’t know it yet, but he is set to become a hero – a hero with a walking disability. When adventure comes knocking, Zam doesn’t let his disability get in the way of fighting the changelings, wytes and gargoyles that come to life in the underworld beneath Newcastle. Not when he has a wheelchair that can fly, a ghost for a best friend and a grandfather who has created a new life form that allows whoever wears it to speak to Time…”

Napoleon Xylophone is an inspiring, uplifting work of children’s fiction about disabled superhero Zam (don’t call him by his full name – he hates it). Zam goes to visit his grandfather Eli one day – but Eli has mysteriously disappeared from his lab, which is stuffed full of clever inventions. The only person Zam and his friend Ezzy can find is a ‘shade’, with a knot tied in his arm, called Slink. His grandfather has been taken away by Mandrake Ackx, a nasty ‘whyte’ who is determined to speak to Time. Only Eli and his inventions can make that happen. Napoleon’s grandfather doesn’t want to put Napoleon in danger by bringing him face to face with this horrible creature, so he leaves him a message to tell him not to worry. However, the message has the opposite effect – Zam becomes determined to find him, with the help of Ezzy (his best friend who he’s also got a crush on), Slink (but why has he got a knot in his arm?), and a brilliant wheelchair his grandfather has invented called Q.

Armed with his friends and all of Q’s handy features, Zam, Ezzy and Slink journey through the Underground under Newcastle City Centre. But when they meet Mandrake Ackx they made have bitten off more than they can chew – can they all make it out safely, or will they perish in Mandrake’s quest?

Napoleon Xylophone is a brilliant work of fiction with a hero that anyone can look up to. Zam gives a voice to disabled children everywhere, and all young readers will be able to sympathise with him in some way. Brilliantly written, with fantastic characterisation and with a sprinkle of Steampunk – Frank Lambert’s debut novel is a must-read.

This review will appear in a future issue of The Self Publishing Magazine. Many thanks to Matador for the review copy.

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