Pyrgus, Prince of the Purple Emperor of the Faeries, is accidentally transported to Mr Fogarty’s house and must rely on Henry and Mr Fogarty to return him to the Faerie Realm. Meanwhile, Pyrgus’ sister Holly Blue has caught wind of a plot to assassinate the Emperor which is merely a front for the Demon Beleth to get a foothold into the Faerie Realm. The plot–a palace intrigue with some magical elements and demonic interference thrown in–is supplemented by the characters of Henry and Mr Fogarty and their efforts to return Phrygus to his world. In the process, they play their own part in the surrounding politics.
With the exception of the occasional deception, the reader pretty much knows who is good and who is bad. Unfortunately, Henry’s parents are looking at separating, because his mother is having an affair with his father’s female secretary. His father is nonplussed, although his mother discusses possible living arrangements matter-of-factly. Henry’s girl friend Charlie describes Henry’s bewilderment at this as old-fashioned and reveals that her mother divorced her violent biological father long ago and married again. Mr Chalkhill, one of the two pantomime-esque proprietors of a glue factory in which Pyrgus is captured, is camp in the extreme: his good-looking butler wears shorts and Chalkhill makes suggestive comments about what he would do to Pyrgus. At one point Henry accidentally comes across Holly having a bath in the palace. He is captivated by the sight and knows he should turn away: “That’s what he knew he should do, but somehow his legs wouldn’t work… It wasn’t fair on her. He had to stop looking and go away.” There’s no ill intention, but it’s quite a sensual moment.
Tim Golden is a computer programmer in London. He also is the editor of the Good-to-Read website.