Friday, 3 April 2015

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week ending 3rd April 2015 - "Tales of Fayt - The Mystery of the Crooked Imp" by Conrad Mason and David Wyatt (David Fickling Books)

Tales of Fayt: The Mystery of the Crooked Imp

Written by Conrad Mason

Illustrated by David Wyatt

Published by David Fickling Books

As comic fans, we still get a bit irritated when people assume that "comics" means "Those silly funny things that kids who can't read proper books read instead". Believe it or not, there are still parents out there who are extremely sniffy and snobby about comics.

It's a pity then, that they'll miss out on the new revival of British comics that is consistently delivering fantastic stories, brilliant characters and artwork to die for week in week out.

Comic mega-heroes at The Phoenix know that kids are capable of dealing with stories and strips that aren't dumbed down in any way, tapping into children's imaginations and even inspiring them to create amazing comic stories of their own.

"Tales of Fayt - The Mystery of the Crooked Imp" was (admittedly) a new one on us, we hadn't encountered Conrad Mason and David Wyatt's fantasy tale before but we're properly hooked. Set in the dark underbelly of Port Fayt, "The Mystery of the Crooked Imp" starts off with a terrible crime - a baby is kidnapped in a stagecoach robbery by a crew of faeries. The Demon's Watch are called in to investigate the abduction, a motley but highly organised crew of human and troll guards with an extremely talented 11 year old girl called Tabitha (or Tabs) amongst their number, as well as two supercool rock-hard Troll guards who might look a little green around the gills, but you really wouldn't want to pick a fight with them!

Ooh Fishsticks!! This is good!
As the sprawling tale opens, we're treated to a twisty-turny page-flipper of a plot that had us utterly convinced that we knew who the real bad guys were in this tale, only to be proved completely wrong! That thing we said earlier about comics that don't treat kids like they're dummies? Well this story shows you what we meant, and then some!

A dying dwarf draws his final breath offering a tiny clue that just serves to complicate matters even further, and a bewigged troll thespian throws even more confusion into the mix but the dogged and determined Demons Watch are a force to be reckoned with, vowing to find out just who (or indeed what) the Crooked Imp is.

Conrad Mason has a gift for developing the kind of characters we want to read about in stories, with a  thoroughly deep dive into fantasy realms that feels nicely Pratchett-esque (and if there's one thing I feel it's my duty as a parent to achieve, it's introducing Charlotte to Pratchett's Discworld one day - heck yes!)

Tabitha puzzles out this peculiar mystery (Charlotte says "her hair is the COOLEST!")

Speaking of which, Conrad has teamed up with an astonishing artist for Book 1 of the Tales of Fayt Graphic Novel series (oh, and there are more "Tales" adventures to be had in chapter book form too!) David Wyatt is a fantasy artist extraordinaire, developing some of the most amazing covers for Terry Pratchett's books. Here he turns his immense talent to breathing life into Conrad's fantasy world as faeries, trolls and normal folk exist cheek by jowl in a dark and forbidding realm. 

As the mystery begins to unravel, mostly thanks to Tabitha's gutsy and quick-witted efforts, the plot twists once more leaving us breathless and gagging for more from Conrad and David as this fine adventure draws to a close. 

Sublime character creations, a story that engages and immerses you in this fine fantasy setting, and the sort of female character that has my little girl firmly nailing her colours to the mast of The Phoenix. How could we possibly NOT make this book of the week?

Charlotte's best bit: Tabs seeing off a nasty (and very hungry) faerie-scoffing seagull with a swish of her sword. Swoosh!

Daddy's Favourite bit: I described Pirates of Pangaea as "the comic that got my little girl into comics" - Brilliant stories like the "Tales of Fayt" series, with awesome heroes like Tabitha and the Demon's Watch are the tales that will keep her well and truly engaged with comics for years to come. Awesome work all round! Do NOT miss this one!

(Kindly sent to us for review by David Fickling Books and those awesome Phoenix Comic folks)

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