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The Curse of the Gloamglozer by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

01/12/2009. Contributed by Vikki Green

Buy The Curse of the Gloamglozer in the USA - or Buy The Curse of the Gloamglozer in the UK

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pub: Corgi/Random House. 380 pages paperback. Price: 5.99 (UK), $11.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-55255-425-1.

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'The Curse Of The Gloamglozer' opens in the floating city of Sanctaphrax with a brief prologue about the schism between the Earth Scholars and the Sky Scholars. A schism that ended with the Earth Scholars being exiled from the city of Sanctaphrax and their branch of knowledge being wiped from the halls of the Edge's academies. Sky Scholarship has become an empty discipline by the time the story opens, with cloud formation names being memorised by rote and actual learning being ditched in favour of inter-disciplinary backbiting and squabbling. Until the Most High Academe, Linius Pallitax, is appointed. He begins his time trying to reinstate the Earth Scholars and bring real learning back to Sanctaphrax without success as he has been diverted by a Great Work.

His daughter, Maris, feels neglected by her father and is even more put out when he recruits Quint, the son of the Sky Pirate Wind Jackal, as his apprentice. Quint is even more put out than Maris at his new life. The scholar's life is utterly alien to the young sky pirate and he is bored to tears by the daily recitation of cloud formations at school. By night, his skills as a Sky Pirate are in demand from the Most High Academe. He is able to steer a low sky cage to the underside of Sanctaphrax's floating rock to get Linius to a tunnel leading far into the depths of the huge rock. The second time, Quint's curiosity overwhelms him and he follows his master inside. He sees Linius pass through a door and a voice pleading for mercy before the door closes and he is left to find his way back to the low sky cage via the ever changing passages and past an insane monster.

Maris overcomes her jealousy at Quint's closeness to her father to ask him to take her to see what Linius is up to down in the heart of the rock. Despite many obstacles and nearly getting killed, they get to the bottom of her father's mysterious behaviour.

'The Curse Of The Gloamglozer' comes before 'The Twig Trilogy' and reading it has cleared up a few questions I had about 'The Edge' and the characters that appeared in the later books. Needless to say, Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart have brought an intricate and dangerous world to marvellous life here. The sub-plot involving the scheming of Seftus Leprix, Linius' untrustworthy deputy and his come-uppance at the hands of the spindlebug Tweazle is fun to behold, as is the utterly logical but bonkers Great Library. The whole world is brought to intricate life through Chris Riddell's exquisite illustrations. The creatures roaming the ever growing and changing Stone Comb of Sanctaphrax are as ghastly as ever and the ends some characters meet are pretty disgusting. The gleeful goriness is bound to appeal to younger adult readers. It rather appeals to me, too, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the book.

I find the illustrations, the vivid characters, the gripping story and the sheer pace of the storytelling in this book is a delight. I read it in one sitting. A great read for teen-agers of all ages.

Vikki Green

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