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A gloriously spooky horror-fantasy story from Joseph Delaney, the internationally multi-million bestselling author of The Spook's Apprentice Crafty halted, his heart lurching with fear, his mouth dry. There were bare footprints in the white snow, and each one was smeared with red, as if the owner of those clawed feet had stepped in a puddle of blood . . . Crafty and his friends have already faced dozens of horrifying aberrations during their time as Castle Gate Grubs - assistants to the mysterious guild of Gatemancers, who fight against the terrifying Shole. But the real battle is only just beginning. New and more dangerous aberrations are appearing all the time, and worse yet, it seems someone from within the Castle is helping them attack. And when an old enemy returns to give Crafty a disturbing warning, it seems time might be running out for all of them . . .
This first timelessly terrifying tale in a new series from the creator of The Spook’s Apprentice confirms the author’s status as a veritable master of crafting elementally powerful worlds from fascinating pockets of English folklore. Crafty is a Fey. As such he can hear the whisperings of his dead brothers, and he’s immune to the powers of the Shole, a horrifying mist that’s enveloping the Lancashire region. It was the Shole that claimed his non-Fey mother, while his brothers died working for the Chief Mancer, which is what Crafty does now too. After a miserable period shut-up in a cellar with only the occasional companionship of a deceased Bog Queen warrior to brighten his days, he’s passed the test to work as a gate grub, the lowliest of those employed by the Castle Corpus, and a highly dangerous role to boot. Alongside the creeping unfolding of an un-put-down-able story, I adored Crafty’s boundless candor and curiosity, and his friendship with fellow gate grubs Donna and Lucky suffuses his bleak situation with welcome warmth. But, ultimately, with his court courier father missing in action, Crafty is pretty much alone in an increasingly perilous situation… This exquisitely compelling tale tingles with as much raw, pure storytelling prowess and intrigue as it does with the slither and menace of multiple monstrous beasts, and I cannot wait for the second instalment.
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