In Scotland in the 1930s, a demon bound in the form of a gargoyle solves murders as a way of seeking redemption. But the crimes begin pointing toward a larger, equally supernatural threat.
A demon takes a scrappy runaway under his wing. The gargoyle, the runaway, and a weary priest turn their attention to a series of killings that may have ties to political unrest-and may have ties to the supernatural.
Jane Yolen is an author of children's books, fantasy, and science fiction, Including Owl Moon, The Devil's Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? She is also a poet, a teacher of writing and literature, and a reviewer of children's literature. She has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century. Jane Yolen's books and stories have won the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite.
Adam Stemple is the author of fantasy novels and short stories including Singer of Souls and Steward of Song. Stemple and Jane Yolen have previously co-authored the Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale and See/ie Wars book series. Stemple also performs Celtic-influenced American folk rock. He is based in Minneapolis.
Orion Zangara is an illustrator, comic book artist, and aspiring author who lives in the Washington D.C. area. He is a graduate of The Kubert School, an art trade school with a concentration in sequential art, founded by his grandfather, Joe Kubert. He creates dark fantasy tales in both pictures and prose.
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.
Craig McGowan has little to believe in as a street urchin in 1930s Edinburgh, but just when he’s ready to give up and throw himself from the top of a church, he meets Silex, a demon trapped in a gargoyle statue who runs a crime-solving operation, since perching on a church for centuries is a bit boring. Craig becomes his investigator and confidante as they try to solve a string of murders plaguing the city. This first volume in Yolen and Stemple’s Stone Man Mysteries series sets up some enticing plot dynamics, including Silex’s true nature and plan, Craig’s intention in working for the demon detective, and what kinds of people they will encounter in the darker parts of Edinburgh. Zangara’s black and white drawings fit the brooding and menacing mood of this story, and the detail and nuance within his artwork encourage multiple readings to notice its subtleties. At a quick glance, his drawings may seem like unpolished sketches, but this approach enhances the story, matching the bleakness and supernatural strangeness of Craig’s world.
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