'We're the Demon's Watch, son. Protectors of Port Fayt. Scourge of all sea scum. Don't tell me you've never heard of us?' Half-goblin boy Joseph Grubb lives in Fayt, a bustling trading port where elves, trolls, fairies and humans live side by side. Fed up of working at the Legless Mermaid tavern, Grubb dreams of escape - until a whirlwind encounter with a smuggler plunges him into Fayt's criminal underworld. There he meets the Demon's Watch and learns of their mission to save the port from a mysterious and deadly threat. Can Grubb and his new allies uncover the dark plot in time, or will they end up as fish food in Harry's Shark Pit?
When I came across The Demon’s Watch the first thing that really got my attention was the cover of the book. It just looks so cool and awesome and with the promise of a piratesque look and story aimed at children with goblins I just new this story couldn’t turn out wrong, and my thoughts were correct. The Demon’s Watch is the first book in The Tales of Fayt and is also the debut book of Conrad Mason who works as an editor in children’s fiction.
The Demon’s Watch starts of with a glimpse of the dull life of the half-goblin Joseph Grubb, currently working for his uncle in the tavern Legless Maid, cleaning tables and washing the dishes. But he isn’t satisfied with his life and his uncle is quite harsh on him. Joseph is a half-goblin, his father was a goblin and his mother human. He is often called a mongrel due to this and is looked and frowned upon as a no good. Joseph’s life is about to take a turn for the better, though his is in for some difficult choices. Well first off I was really pleased with the main protagonist Joseph Grubb in The Demon’s Watch introduction wise and overall growth. You can readily identify him from the cover of the book. He comes over like an insecure, fragile creature with of course a short posture (being a half-goblin). But in between the lines and in the lines of the book you really see Joseph grow, finally taking the reigns of his own young life in his own hands and pursuing his own adventures. His breaking out, standing up for himself must carry a secondary message I think. What is also often shown is that goblins in other stories are linked to scheming and mischievous acts, well Joseph isn’t anything like that at all, he is in for justice and follows up everything with his own heart of gold, which I really liked.
And now it’s time for The Demon’s Watch them selves. Again a part that I found great to read about, and I think a lot of children who will pick up this book, will find them selves in a similar position. The Demon’s Watch are a special division that capture smugglers and thieves in the city of Fayt. Though they have a certain reputation… What the people of Fayt don’t see is that, behind their blunderbusses, muskets and other weaponry, they are quite the merry bunch. The Demon’s Watch is led by Captain Newton (Newt for short) and Old Jon, an elf, the twin trolls Frank and Paddy, Hal the human magician and a young girl Tabitha make up Newton’s crew. Like you can read the book already has goblins, elves, trolls and human but there is even more as Captain Newton has a pet fairy. Each member of The Demon’s Watch had it’s own personality and made the whole team come together, but one of the members, Tabitha really stood out. With her being the youngest of them all and just being allowed to become a full member of the Watch she wants to proof herself that she is worthy of her job. All throughout the story she is seeking acknowledgement from Captain Newton and the others, but in her endeavours to do so, she goes a few steps to far that bring Tabitha in her own set of perils…
All in all I can’t seem to find any fault in the characters alone, they are just super to read about. Next to Joseph and the members of The Demon’s Watch there are a lot of other characters that you get to meet in Port Fayt; from imps to ogres and other humans. With his characterization Conrad Mason put down the right setting for the story. And I even forgot to mention the shapeshifters!
Now for the story, it is already partially explained above, the part about Joseph. How he finds himself in a completely new adventure. Captain Newton is always on the look out for a new job for his Watch in trying to catch a renegade or a smuggler that is setting foot in Port Fayt, and he has found a new lead to a smuggler and has set his goals to capture him. But what soon falls to notice is that Joseph’s storyline and that of The Demon’s Watch are more closely linked. What I liked most about the storyline is that is was easy, funny and fast to read (which will only make it appeal that much more for the younger readers) but also that even though it moving steadily along, Conrad Mason does take the time to involve much more of the surroundings. And in the case of Tabitha and Joseph and even Captain Newton delves a bit deeper into their history. Even if it were just a few sentences, they just added that much more flavour to the story. As you got deeper and deeper into the book, there were some nice moments where I was quite surprised with the direction that the overall plot took. The twist and turns that were introduced didn’t feel rushed and with the book taking place in a piratesque setting, a double cross here and there was great stuff to read about. The story of The Demon’s Watch feels like two parts, the first you follow the adventures of Joseph but a second one neatly starts to unfold in the background that when taken together with the final pages of the book really put a smile on my face, it seems that the inhabitants of Port Fayt are in for a surprise and I’m curious as to how they will fend this one off.
The Demon’s Watch is a very energetic and lively children’s book, that is chockfull of the cool stuff that the younger audience will like. It is suited for both audiences as the boys will go towards Joseph and the girls will find them selves in Tabitha. Conrad Mason did a great job in portraying two strong characters of both genders. Next to this is interesting world that was created in the first book, with the Old and New World and Port Fayt lying there in the middle. The races that inhabit this world goblins, ogres, elves, imps and fairies really create a unique setting in combination with the pirate theme. The storyline itself puts all the right gears into motion for a first book in the series. Engaging the reader early on the interesting world. Throwing hints in the storyline that not wholly connect at first but as the story progresses they fall neatly into place. Leading up to a, I hope (fingers crossed), pretty cool encounter.