Title: The Sheriff
Author: Simon Fairbanks
From the back: The Sheriffs wander the clouds to keep peace across Nephos.
Sheriff Denebola is recruited by young Toby to help rid his village of a winged demon. The demon has tormented the people of Angel’s Keep every night for the past week so Denebola vows to capture the creature.
However, the demon is not the only shadow cast over Angel’s Keep. There is the strict priest, Father Osmond, who detests all magic. There is Gideon, a man with wings, claiming to be an angel sent by the Lord. And there is also the matter of the Red Witch, who threatened the village five years before the demon’s arrival.
Denebola soon finds himself caught up in a mystery where angels, demons, heroes and villains are not all that they seem.
The gist: My first foray for a while into middle grade/young-young-adult fiction, and Fairbanks makes it a most entertaining adventure through lands of clouds, talking lions, demons and witches. As a thirty-something surfing quickly towards endless drunken knitting days, it was good to dive into some light hearted entertainment for a change. (Drunken knitting is serious stuff).
The Sheriff is firmly aimed at kids but deals with some meaty topics – religion, morality, acceptance of others – and doesn’t shy away from a bit of action (fight scenes, pyres, you know how it goes). With so much action, plus a little bit of naughtiness on the side, there’s something in there for all ages.
Fairbanks delivers an exciting ride through a fantastical land, with a tight writing style that gives just enough to let the imagination do what it does best, and builds a great picture of the relationship between Denebola and Toby (who wouldn’t want to be Toby, right?). With something for the whole family, it’s a great read to get kids involved in thinking about and engaging with moral issues and dilemmas. Dealing with those sorts of issues is always a tricky business, and Fairbanks does a pretty damn good job of it.
Plus, it’s the first in a series, so you know there’s something more coming, and it’s gonna be worth checking out.
Whether you’re a kid or a granny, when you’ve got a walking, talking lion sheriff, a ballsy kid, and an adventure in the clouds you’re in for a whole lot of fun. Add in the odd bit of naughtiness every now and then and whatever happens, you ain’t getting bored.
Bonus point – the creator of the cloud lands of Nephos was called the Clown. I’m not sure entirely why, but this pleases me.
Favourite line: ‘We thought you were fighting,’ said Jocelyn. ‘We heard groaning.’
Yamilet responded to that with a dirty cackle and said no more.
Read if: You want a fun, young-young-adult book that deals with religion and faith, and throws in some violence and adventure along the way.
Read with: Hot milk. Hot milk is the best way to prepare for any adventure. Just ask hedgehogs.
Get it: The Sheriff by Simon Fairbanks