So the…I feel weird calling Wirt, Greg and Beatrice “our heroes” all the time. I really should come up with a name for them. The Unknown Wanderers? The Frog Squad? The Autumnal Avengers? Greg and the Gregettes? What am I saying, the answer is obvious.
So Greg and the Gregettes have split up with Wirt and Greg having ditched Beatrice after her trying to sell them into indentured servitude to an evil witch (God some people are so sensitive).
They’re ambushed by the Woodsman who tries to warn them the Beast is after them after the events of Songs of the Dark Lantern but they of course think that he’s the Beast…or a lunatic with an axe which either way, y’know? So they flee until they come to a creepy cottage in the middle of the woods and hide inside.
Inside the cottage they find a barrel of the mysterious black turtles that have been cropping up all over the forest. The boys are discovered by a thin, pale servant girl named Lorna. They hear a noise outside and Lorna nervously whispers at the boys to hide in the turtle barrel so that they won’t be found by “Auntie Whispers”.
Nearing the end of their journey, our heroes are riding a ferry to Adelaide’s house and everything seems great. Greg is having a grand old time and even Wirt (Wirt!) is happy and relaxed for once. Plus they’re on a boat inhabited entirely by fancy, fancy frogs and who doesn’t love frogs?
Only Beatrice seems ill at ease and unhappy. Suddenly, two frogstables show up and try to arrest our heroes for sneaking on to the ferry without paying. Beatrice suggests they just surrender and get thrown off the boat but Wirt refuses because they’ve come so far. The cops chase them all over the ship until they disguise themselves using the Ol’ Totem Pole Trench technique.
We begin In Media Res…
…with Wirt, Greg, Beatrice and Fred the horse having dinner with the fabulously wealthy and utterly batshit insane tea mogul Quincy Endicott who thinks that Wirt and Greg are his nephews. And he thinks that because…Beatrice has straight up told him that they are because she wants his money.
Wirt is aghast that Beatrice wants to scam this sweet old man and Beatrice explains that she was actually thinking of just straight up robbing him.
Greetings traveller. Remember how forty years ago in 2018 I cursed you all with the knowledge of Rimini Riddle, either a vanishingly obscure Irish children’s programme from the nineties or (as seemed more likely) a collective national nightmare akin to the time we all convinced ourselves that Twink was a real person?
Well, there have recently been developments. Significant developments.
Commenter Kev recently left a Kev comment as commenter Kevs are wont to do:
That was the beginning. I waited, caught in a mad no-man’s-land between dread and anticipation. And then, hark!
I told myself that it couldn’t be possible. the Riddle…survived? No. And it couldn’t be. Surely not. And then…
Yes. It’s true. Kev, that modern Prometheus, that monomaniac, that…guy, has, like a Carl Denham of the modern age, tracked the monster to its attic lair and dragged it in chains out into the harsh light of day to be gawped at for our amusement.
WE HAVE A (partial) EPISODE OF RIMINI RIDDLE. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
AND I AM GOING TO REVIEW IT MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON US ALL!
Oh I have been itching to show you guys this one!
This is the cover for the UK edition of When the Sparrow Falls and it is a feast for the eye.
See what I did there? Matt Needle, the artist, gave us three concepts for the cover and honestly picking one was one of the hardest parts of this whole process because they were all so beautiful. But I think we picked the right one. It manages to pack in so many of the themes of the book in one deceptively simple image. I love it. And if you want to get a first peek at the inside of the book, Rebellion have released and excerpt which you can read here.
My new novel, When the Sparrow Falls, is now available to pre-order!:
“Welcome to the Caspian Republic. The last bastion of true humanity in a world given over to artificial intelligence.
Stray from the path towards anything “machine” and the state will correct you.
When propagandist Paulo Xirau dies, and is discovered to himself be a “machine”, State Security Agent Nikolai South is given a new assignment he could hardly want less: chaperone the widow, Lily, the only “machine” visitor ever invited from the outside world, and help her determine what happened to her husband.
Nikolai knows it will be nearly impossible to complete the job without running afoul of the Party—but when he sees that Lily bears an eerie resemblance to his late wife, Nikolai stumbles on a larger plot, one that exposes all the lies he’s told himself and which may bring down the Republic for good.
WHEN THE SPARROW FALLS illuminates authoritarianism, complicity, and identity in the digital age, in a page turning, darkly-funny, frightening and touching story that recalls Philip K. Dick, John Le Carré and Kurt Vonnegut in equal measure.”
When the Sparrow Falls will be published by TOR on June 29 2021, but you can order it now from the following retailers!
Looking for shelter in the middle of a storm, our heroes arrive at a creepy tavern full of people dressed in American colonial era garb and who apparently have no names, only job descriptions. The Tavern Keeper insists that Beatrice wait outside as birds bring bad luck. When Beatrice tries to explain that blue birds bring good luck the Tavern Keeper snaps “good luck, bad luck, I don’t need any of it!” and hits her with a broom.
Fuming, Beatrice waits outside in the stable with a weird horse that seems to be wearing lipstick. She hears the sound of someone chopping wood in the dark forest, and a deep voice singing…
In the tavern, the Tavern Keeper demands to know what Wirt and Greg’s deal is but Wirt doesn’t know what to tell them. After listening to the Highway Man’s song, Wirt asks the way to Adelaide’s House. This leads the tavern patrons to decide that he’s The Young Lover and throw him up onstage to sing his love song.
Outside, frustrated that Wirt’s not making any progress, Beatrice flies off into the dark forest in the direction of the singing and chopping, hoping to ask for directions.
After leaving Pottsfield, Wirt, Greg and Beatrice are now trying to reach the house of Adelaide, the Wise Woman of the Woods. In order to get Greg to stop singing, Beatrice tries to crush his indefatigable optimism. She tells him that the world is a miserable place and that he should be more like Wirt, a beaten down husk of a pushover who just quietly does whatever he’s told. Well, Wirt may be a triangle nosed goober cosplaying as David the Gnome’s secret abandoned lovechild, but even he has his pride. So when the trio stumble across a small school in the middle of the forest where a young woman named Miss Langtree is trying to teach a class of blank eyed animals to read, he joins the class just to spite Beatrice. Greg, who isn’t that big on book learnin’ (I know, stunned gasps all round) instead hangs around outside the school with a bunch of truant racoons, deer and possums.
As Miss Langtree explains in a wistful monologue, the school’s in real trouble. Her father, the owner of the school, is threatening to shut it down, her fiancée Jimmy Brown has done R.U.N.N.O.F.T. and there is the little matter of a mad gorilla on the loose.
Still following the Woodsman’s directions, Wirt and Greg come across the Beatrice the talking bluebird again. She’s trapped in a thornbush and offers to do the boys a good turn after Greg frees her. She tells them that she can take them to Adelaide the Magical Woman of the Woods, who could send them home, but Wirt really isn’t up for a magical Wizard of Oz esque quest and they continue looking for a town with a reluctant Beatrice in tow.
They come to a town called Pottsfield where the locals are celebrating the harvest in pumpkin costumes and dancing to music that’s ever so cheery and it’s not creepy at all…