Chris Golden has become a 'presence' on the horror scene. He has been a prolific writer of stories for the Buffy and Angel series, as well as having many successful efforts of his own. Tom Sniegoski is best known for his comic books work, where he has frequently collaborated with Golden. Now they have joined together to write the first volume a new series, The Menagerie: The Nimble Man.
The basic premise isn't particularly original - wizard and friends join up to save the world books have been around since Lord of The Rings. But the group that make up what is to become The Menagerie are unique in every way. Something one should expect from authors who have the temerity to make Arthur Conan Doyle the magic worker. Then there's Eve, whose second husband made her a vampire (after she proved that gardening wasn't her strong point.
Then there is Clay, the world's oldest shape changer, Len Graves, adventurer and ghost, Squire, the hobgoblin chauffer, Ceridwin, a princess of Faerie and Doyle's one time lover. And last, but not least, is Danny, a demon in the offing with a worried mother. All of these unite when Doyle's attempts to prevent Lorenzo Sanguedolce (Sweetblood) from being extracted from a living tomb backfire, and a deranged Queen of the Fay sets about trying to end the world.
What makes the book is the reality the writers bring to the characters. These aren't cut-and-paste heroes speaking overblown prose, but people who, if you didn't know who they were would seem like ordinary folks with both good points and issues. Or as ordinary as a 16 year old with horns is ever likely to be.
As much as I like him, Chris Golden is an erratic writer, who often falls short of his full potential. Teaming with Sniegoski seems to have done the trick, though, and The Nimble Man is that great rarity, an intelligent action story rich in both character and context. I was much delighted, and am looking forward to the next volume.