Anyone who’s read Footloose may have guessed that I’m rather fond of faeries, particularly faeries who are a bit different from the flower-dwelling-twee-and-sparkly norm. So, when I opened the package from The Phoenix Comic and saw the cover of Tales of Fayt: The Mystery of the Crooked Imp, I knew I was in for a treat.
The collection of comics follows the story of the Demon’s Watch, a band of pie-eating, swashbuckling, sort-of-vigilantes as they try to rescue a kidnapped baby and find out the identity of the mysterious Crooked Imp. The set-up is like Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper books, crossed with the Ankh-Morpork City Watch by way of Neverland – and if that sounds rather unwieldy, well, there’s no need to worry. Mason and Wyatt’s story, art and worldbuilding mean that the reader can step into the curious town of Fayt as easily as if they’d disembarked from one of the many ships.
The mystery at the centre of the story is well-paced and -plotted – clues are dropped early, but subtly, and there’s a good balance between clever problem-solving and thrilling action sequences (complete with one ‘orrible murder). I would have loved a little more time devoted to setting up the dynamics between the members of the Demon’s Watch, and particularly more backstory on the main character and youngest member, the blue-haired, knife-throwing Tabs.
Despite this, the characters were compelling – and the story had one of the most interesting villains I’ve read in a long time. The Actor, a violent gang leader with theatrical pretensions, is a new twist on a fantasy creature – in all the hundreds of fantasy books I’ve read, I have never before seen a thespian troll. (Well, okay, there were a couple in Moving Pictures – but they were film extras, not the wannabe Olivier and giant stony ham that we see in The Actor).
The Crooked Imp is a fun and fast-paced read, with smart dialogue and a very creepy ending. The world of Fayt is certainly one I’d like to visit again.
Alice’s books are available on Amazon and Smashwords. Her webcomics, co-created and illustrated by Emily Brady, can be found at the Footloose website. Ally rambles about writing, feminism, and odd questions that cross her mind on Twitter and Facebook.