When young runaway Craig prepares to jump from a church rooftop, his salvation comes in the unholy shape of Silex: a beast trapped in the form of a gargoyle. Silex runs an investigative service, chasing redemption from atop his perch. And he needs a young lad to do his footwork. Craig begins his new life by probing a series of murders that has menaced Scotland. The scenes are frightening, the motivation is a mystery, and the authorities are no help. So along with Father Harris, a hard-edged man of the cloth, Craig steps onto the streets of Edinburgh—and toward the dangerous task of catching a killer.


Jane Yolen lives in Massachusetts and has written more than 300 books across all genres and age ranges. She has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century. Adam Stemple is an author and American folk rock musician based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has co-written many books with his mother, Jane Yolen. Orion Zangara is an illustrator and comic book artist who lives in the Washington, DC, area. He is a graduate of The Kubert School, an art trade school, with a concentration in sequential art.


In the 1930s, young teen Craig McGowan can’t find work in Edinburgh, so he climbs to a church rooftop to jump off. It’s then that a gargoyle, Silex, convinces the boy to work for him instead, to act as his eyes and ears in investigating a disturbing crime wave—the city’s plagued with a series of mysterious murders, with knives left plunged into the victims, whose throats were cut. Silex suspects a supernatural motive, and Craig and Father Harris, the priest of Silex’s church, soon find themselves in danger as the killer stalks more potential victims. Zangara’s black-and-white art with sometimes scratchy lines provides a gloomy atmosphere in keeping with the somber story, while his architectural details evoke a strong sense of place. Silex’s use of children harkens back to Sherlock Holmes and his Baker Street Irregulars, street kids who gather intelligence for the detective. Yolen and Stemple use enough Scottish vernacular that readers will need to pay attention while reading. Give this to middle- and high-school readers who enjoy mysteries mixed with dark fantasy


Yolen and Stemple’s writing style draws heavily from detective and crime novels, adding to the pulpy feel of the text, mostly made up of dialogue augmented by Silex’s inner thoughts and selective snatches of third-person narration. Zangara mirrors the text with fittingly moody black-and-white panels that depict dark and intricate city skylines, expressive character close-ups, shadowy spreads, and slanted, rain-filled backgrounds. Political, theological, and socio-economic undertones reverberate, underscored by the occasional death scene. A visually engrossing noir debut in the vein of Sin City, this setup promises a number of sequels.

Kirkus Reviews

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