Do you know what a tick-tock boy is? He runs messages and deliveries all over town. And the quicker he does it, the more he can do in a day, so time is money:
Tick-tock - the ticking of the clock...
Meet Barnaby Grimes. He's a pretty superior tick-tock boy.
I know this city like the back of my hand - every alley, every twitten, every street. I have to: it's my trade. Getting about it is second nature to me. Give me any two places and I'll tell you the quickest way to get from one to the other in an instant.
But he wouldn't even have to open his mouth for you to know he was superior. You only need to look at him:
...a twelve-pocket poacher's waistcoat, a coalstack hat and a trusty swordstick are all I need...
And is he happy in his work, Barnaby Grimes? You bet:
As I eased myself up over the guttering and onto the tiles - disturbing a small flock of chattering sparrows as I did so - I found myself grinning involuntarily. Truth be told, this was when I was happiest - high above the city streets, clambering over the rooftops from chimney stack to chimney stack.
Highstacking, it's called - and it's not for the faint-hearted...
Well, I don't think we'll be suggesting that Barnaby Grimes is faint-hearted. Highstacking is elegant, dangerous and very, very quick:
I performed what we highstackers call a Rolling Derby - a half-somersault followed by a one-legged standing pivot at the top of a vertical stanchion. It was a tricky manoeuvre but one that, once mastered, opened up even the highest rooftops as possible routes. Then, with a forward thrust of my arms, I took a flying leap off the edge of the pitched roof...
You'd think that would be excitement enough for one story, but actually it's only just about to begin:
...in the crisp, silver light I saw the glint of dripping fangs and polished claws. I drew the sword from my ebony cane, my mind racing.
Whatever it was staring back at me from the roof-ridge opposite was huge, malevolent, and clearly out for blood. As I levelled the point of my blade between those two blazing eyes, my mouth drier than a stonemason's bench and my heart hammering like a bailiff's fist, I was nevertheless intrigued.
Yep! Me too! Read on...
If you want to buy Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night Wolf by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell and help readingmatters, please use these links
Brilliant. I loved this story. Such a cool customer, Barnaby Grimes. And if you enjoy this one, you can read more of his exploits:
Other hugely popular stories from Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell are the Edge Chronicles:
And you'll probably also enjoy the Far-Flung Adventures by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell too: