by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Book Two in both The Twig Trilogy and The Edge Chronicles, this lavishly
illustrated volume continues the adventures of a young sky-pirate captain in a
strange world where certain kinds of wood and stone are lighter than air, and where
lightning bolts form a solid substance when they strike the ground - a substance
that is immensely heavy in darkness, unmanageably weightless in bright light,
dangerously explosive, and that can only be handled in twilight conditions.
This substance, known as stormphrax, is a hot commodity. For one thing, it is very
rare. No one remembers the last time a sky-pirate ship returned from a quest to
bring stormphrax back - back to the floating city of scholars called Sanctaphrax and
the earthy Undertown that serves it. Only a quantity of stormphrax in its darkened
treasury can keep Sanctaphrax from breaking its anchor chain and flying off into the
sky. But since the current Most High Academe discovered that phraxdust - powdered
stormphrax - can also purify water, nearly all of the stormphrax supply has gone
into futile (not to say fatal) attempts to repeat the experiment. Now both
stormphrax and phraxdust are in short supply, and conditions are growing desperate.
The local economy revolves around the forging of additional chains to hold down the
increasingly unstable city. This means more water pollution, increasing the
desperation of the poor people of Undertown, who can no longer afford enough
phraxdust to obtain drinkable water; while there will soon be nothing left with which to pay the
merchant guilds who supply the chains.
Into this desperate moment steps Cloud Wolf, a great pirate captain who is willing
to chase a great storm out over the Twilight Woods, hoping to bring back the
stormphrax his city needs. Unfortunately, one of Cloud Wolf's crew is a traitor - a
sneaking spy from the Merchant Guild, who dupes Cloud Wolf's son Twig into stowing
away on board, only to use him as a hostage. The resulting fracas has tragic
results, and forces Twig to exercise his natural leadership skills in a desperate
attempt to save his crew and redeem their failed mission. The perils of the Twilight
Woods and the adjacent Mire turn out to be an unexpectedly gruelling (and gruesome)
challenge to survival.
Brace yourself for some shocking nasties, loads of weird creatures, gut-shredding
losses, and high-tension battles against man, machine, and nature in this most
strange and inventive fantasy world. But don't worry about the time or effort of
reading a trilogy. The richness of the imagery, both in word and in picture, will
beguile you - though not in the nasty way the Twilight Woods beguiles people. It
might help to read Beyond the Deepwoods before this book, and of course you'll want
to read Midnight Over Sanctaphrax after it. But I think you will find this such a
strong, solid story in its own right, that everyone in the family will want a turn.
Recommended Age: 10+
If you would like to contact Robbie, you may do so here.