‘Stormchaser’ by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 04.06.24It should be noted that this is not the first time I’ve read Stormchaser.  Over the years, I have probably read this book five or six times from cover to cover.  It’s the first of The Edge Chronicles that I read, though arguably it was not the best place to start:  the Chronicles are divided into an ever-growing series of trilogies, of which this is not the first of any.  In fact, it’s the second in the Twig Trilogy, the first of the trilogies to have been written.

It was bought for me by utter fluke by an aunt and uncle one Christmas, and I’m always grateful for that because it is such a great read.  Twig is a young Sky Pirate, who goes on a quest to find the elusive substance Stormphrax, which is only made in their heart of storms.  Taking the lead of a merry band of academics and sky pirates, he pilots his sky ship, Stormchaser, back to his childhood home, the Deepwoods, in this action-packed YA/children’s adventure.

Paul Stewart’s imaginative force is surprising, entertaining and brilliant.  There is such a diverse host of characters, beasts and machinery in this tale that you can never get bored and Chris Riddell’s fine, kooky illustrations bring them all to life perfectly.  What’s more, Stormchaser is one of the faster-paced Edge Chronicles, and as such is actually quite a good place to just dive right into the world and the story.

I thoroughly recommend it for any children, though sometimes it can be a bit dark and scary and Stewart definitely doesn’t pull any punches on character deaths.  Equally, I think older sci-fi and fantasy fans will also really love these books.  I have recently known a bunch of highly-intellectual twenty-somethings to embark on a home-spun Edge Chronicles RPG, which I kick myself for not having been able to join.  I’ve just reread it as part of a weekend off, and god-damn it’s still as gripping as ever.

A great, rip-roaring steampunk-meets-fantasy yarn.  Wish someone would make a film of it.

Stormchaser was first published by Doubleday in 1999 and Corgi Books in 2000.  It is available in eBook and Paperback format for £4.48 and £6.99 respectively.