Edgar, an ancient and cantankerous raven, is the narrator of this, the first in a new series of six gothic tales, set in creepy Otherhand Castle. Whilst fond of the vampishly gorgeous daughter of the house, Solstice, Edgar views the other members of the weird Otherhand family with quiet contempt. They include Lord Valevine, a wannabe inventor, mad as the box of bullfrogs he keeps blowing up; Minty, his potty ex-witch wife; and their 10-year-old son Cudweed, and his pet monkey, Fellah, with whom Edgar has regular spats.
One fateful day, Edgar begins to observe things of a rather sinister nature from his lofty perches. A huge slimy black tail slinks away under the rhubarb in the garden. Flood waters rise beneath the Castle. And then a kitchen maid disappears. With a monster on the prowl and the Castle under water, Edgar must save the day, and rescue the inhabitants of Otherhand from certain death, by flood or by fang.
Sedgwick, who is on record as saying that his favourite literary characters are Flay and Steerpike from Gormenghast, has clearly revelled in creating this junior horror series, which in design and format, bears more than a passing resemblance to ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’. Pete Williamson’s inky black illustrations help propel the story enjoyably along too. I’d have liked a bit more creeping menace: the monster isn’t really very scary despite his myriad fangs. Still it’s all good foul fun, and this first instalment bodes well for the next: Ghosts and Gadgets, out in October.