I’m constantly jumping on Kickstarter’s based on the glimpse of a cover, the names of the creators I know or just to try something new and Smithers & Wing from Heather Palmer & Kirsty Hunter pretty much slipped into each of those categories – so I knew this was on my “must read” pile already.
It follows the lives of Flora Smithers & August Wing as they try to eke out a living as Supernatural Private Investigators but at a time when the city of Edinburgh is peaceful for once, it’s safe to say that a year without any cases has had them pursue alternative employment. The arrival of a new case is just what they need though and with school girl Catriona Hewitt missing for weeks now the lines of enquiry for the Police are starting to run cold, so it calls for a specific skill set to take things in directions the authorities wouldn’t normally touch.
August & Flora are quickly on the case and after visiting the family the strange disappearance of Cat seems to be getting all the stranger. They’re forced to delve back into their own pasts to try and find out more with August going back to the Police Station where she once worked and Flora returning to the old guard of Magic that once ousted her. They chip away at finding new leads and when things solidify on the world of Magic things escalate quickly for them both.
The natural affection that exists between the central couple of August & Flora gives this story it’s instant hook of familiarity and as Heather weaves her plot with a mix of thriller, magic and realism, it’s easy to get sucked into this from the beginning. The gradual reveal of how their past’s still play on their minds then gives things another layer of depth not just to the characters as individuals but to the strength of the couple too. There’s been some MAJOR struggles for them along the way and with August’s previous involvement in the world of Magic being revealed as the reason she lost her arm it became clear that the willingness to do right was something that helped drive them beyond their own hang-ups.
Doubling up on the intrigue was that art from Kirsty and with a playful use of layouts & a sumptuous use of colour things have an ethereal vibe to it that suits the events down to the ground. The clash of real and mystical dimensions is carried off with enough conviction between the writing and art that it’s as page-turning a book as I’ve read in a while as it demanded to be finished in one sitting. That level of intrigue and hook highlights just how well rounded the world/worlds are and the characters within it are so realistic you’re sure that you could bump into them on the street. Kudos to Faye Stacey on additional colouring and Flatter Holley McKend for playing their part in the whole look of the book too.
There IS a lot of reading in this which in many other books would drag things down but the layouts and the quality of the lettering combine with that “can’t put it down” feeling to really keep the flow going. In the context of the story that’s being told there’s not a word wasted either so it does feel like things warrant the level of detail it’s got.
My gut told me this was a book I wanted to read but Heather & Kirsty went well beyond my expectations as the diverse characters, the fantastic events and the intricate nature of the plot combined with art you want to melt down and pour into your eyes. A magical book in every sense of the word and I desperately want to see more cases from Smithers & Wing.