The Phenomenals is a new fantasy series from F.E. Higgins, and it starts with A Tangle of Traitors. At just over 200 pages, and with short chapters, it’s marketed at 9+, although I would suggest it’s for more confident readers. The + is important.. I’m certainly a lot more than 9, and I really enjoyed it!
It’s set in the city of Degringolade, where the inhabitants are highly superstitious, and criminals are hung then thrown into the tar pit, where they become Lurids. These are smelly, ghostly entities, bound to the tar pits – unless someone can find a way to free them.
We are introduced to four characters, who eventually have to work together. Vincent is an outsider, an expert thief and pickpocket. Folly is a secretive character, living in a burial vault, and very knowledgeable about the Lurids. Citrine is a wealthy heiress who misses her father. Jonah is a harpoonist who keeps to himself after being swallowed by a whale.
This isn’t the easiest book to get into, hence my comment about more confident readers. Higgins is building a brand new world, where even time is expressed in a different way, and commonplace articles have different names. These are well explained though, but it took a while to adjust to the world, and the writing. Once there though, I fell in love with the setting and the characters, and sped my way through the book. There are certain books I connect with, and this is one of them – I didn’t like finishing it, and will be expectedly awaiting the next. It’s hard to compare this with anything else, but it did remind me of The Edge Chronicles.
Ideal for younger readers looking for their next step, but also for oldies like me, who enjoy fantasy and adventure!