The Book That Made Me: Philip Reeve 16/10/19
Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night Wolf
Decked in a twelve-pocket poacher's waistcoat and coalstack hat, ever armed with a swordstick in the event of the likely dangers that might - and do - befall him in his rooftop escapades, Barnaby Grimes has a reputation as being among the most skilled Tick-Tock Lads of his unnamed Georgian city. For the proper coinage these delivery boys can whisk a message to its destination in a matter of minutes, taking to the rooftops and leaping with acrobatic ease from chimney to shingle, alley to thoroughfare.
During a routine errand - routine for a 'high-stacker' of Grimes' caliber - the lad is attacked by what appears to be an enormous dog which Barnaby manages to dispatch with his ever ready sword. The mystery of the savage beast deepens when Grimes begins to observe the activities of one Dr Cadwallader from his eagle-eye vantage high above the city streets. The good doctor's multi-purpose tonics have gained in popularity among the poor of the city with the promise of remedies to all that ails for mere pence. With the rise in tonic sales comes a rise too in Grimes' encounters with the unnatural wolf-kind of the night, which the story's hero suspects not to be a coincidence. With the disappearance of fellow Tick-Tock Lad, Benjamin, it falls to Barnaby to expose the source of the menacing Night Wolf.
Told from the perspective of a much older Grimes, the narration takes a similar whimsical tone to that of Limony Snicket's tales made more personal by the fact that Grimes is recounting his own remarkable adventures. Added to this are Chris Riddell's stunningly detailed illustrations which conjure scenes of a Dickensian world inhabited by the mystical, the sinister, and the courageous which are certain to thrill readers of all shapes, sizes, ages, and odours.