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Midnight Over Sanctaphrax: Edge Chronicles #3    by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell order for
Midnight Over Sanctaphrax
by Paul Stewart
Order:  USA  Can
David Fickling Books, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

This is the 3rd episode in the thrilling Edge Chronicles ... 'Far far away, jutting out into the emptiness beyond, like the figurehead of a mighty stone ship, is the Edge.' The Edgewater River is drying up, and Sanctaphrax is in the path of 'Mother Storm'. Captain Twig and his crew are committed to prevent the city's destruction. Sailing now for twenty days and nights, the young air-pilot's ship, the 'Edgedancer', is tethered to the caterbird in flight. The strong, mighty bird guides the ship and crew into the direct center (the safest part) of the whirling, weather vortex.

The crew love and respect Twig for his courage, and for rescuing each of them from danger. They search for Twig's father, Cloud Wolf and his ship the 'Stormchaser', finding both within the 'turbulent heart' of Mother Storm. Cloud Wolf informs his son that the storm is essential to the survival of the Edgelands, before he vanishes into a 'bright-light apparition'. 'Whooooopff!' sounds an implosion of the white storm, as the Edgedancer explodes outwards, dropping Twig and his crew like falling stars. Sanctaphrax, the floating city held by an anchor chain to the Edge, rocks and rolls with the tremors of the storm. In the Loftus Observatory, the Professor of Darkness sights shooting stars - he travels down to the Edge, to find an amnesiac Twig dazed, speechless, and surrounded by 'light'. When Twig recovers from his stupor, he is determined to find his crew members.

Fifteen-year old Cowlquape was sold to a Sanctaphrax dweller, treated abominably as a sub-acolyte, and forced to perform menial, gruesome tasks. The former son of a leaguesman, Cowlquape finds refuge in the Great Library of Sanctaphrax, amongst the dusty barkscrolls, where he reads the memoirs of 'Kobold the Wise', famed for bringing the peoples and the lands peacefully together, and the 'Myth of Riverrise', 'a classic that makes sense of things'. Twig makes Cowlpaque his new apprentice, and the two embark on an eventful quest to find the crew, travelling to the western quays of the Leaguesmen, into a Cistern, and to an obscure wretched hangout of the Cloddertrogs. They fight notorious Hammerheads, venture into the dark Deepwoods, and to the Great Shryke Slave Market. Along the way, a whisper of a voice guides Twig.

Midnight Over Sanctaphrax teems with heterogeneous beings, from glimpelts, fritts, wig-wigs, and prowlgrins, to savage cloddertrogs, treacherous shrykes, and gruesome waifs. Journey with Twig and his associates through hair-raising, treacherous territories, facing danger at every turn, as they attempt to accomplish the much-needed reseeding of Rivverside by Mother Storm. On parting, Twig says to Cowlquape, 'Follow your heart, and I will follow mine.' Paul Stewart's narrative will cast a spell over readers of all ages and Chris Riddell's exquisitely detailed, surrealistic line drawings complement the text. The Edge Chronicles is destined to become a classic and a collectible. Its next adventure, The Curse of the Gloamglozer, is slated for release in January 2005.

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