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Reviewed: The Nimble Man: A Novel Of The Menagerie
Alright, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There’s this mysterious gentleman, with a mansion in the US, who brings together a team of inhumanly powerful misfits, enduring a bit of teen angst and squabbling between abrasive character types along the way, to prevent a powerful enemy from destroying the world as we know it! Does that sound familiar? Well, it should if you’ve ever encountered The X-men or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic books or their big screen film incarnations. Now take my description above and substitute sorcerer and alchemist Arthur Conan Doyle for the mysterious gentleman, make the misfits supernaturally powered, call them The Menagerie and you’ve got an extremely good idea of what Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski’s THE NIMBLE MAN: A NOVEL OF THE MENAGERIE is all about.

Set in the present day, the first book in this dark fantasy series details how Mr. Doyle (something of an immortal due to a potion concocted in the Faerie realm) and his supernatural sidekicks (Ceridwen – former lover of Mr. Doyle and a Faerie princess, the ghost of Dr. Leonard Graves – who reads like an undead Doc Savage, Danny Frederick – a teenaged demon changeling just discovering his powers, Clay – a shape shifter whose name seems to link him to the Biblical story of creation, Eve – the mother of all vampires whose name also betrays her Biblical origins and finally a wise-cracking hobgoblin chauffer and weapons master named Squire) must stop a fallen angel, the titular Nimble Man (some sort of kith or kin to Lucifer), from being unleashed into our world by a renegade sorceress from the Faerie realm. Yes, it is as predictable and juvenile as it sounds I’m afraid, with fairly simplistic writing to boot, although due to some of the language it isn’t actually suitable for a young adult reader. Tom Sniegoski’s background is largely as a comic book writer, and while Golden has written some interesting horror fiction (
OF SAINTS AND SHADOWS), this is more in keeping with his numerous YA writing credits and media tie-ins, in short, while this might make a vaguely interesting, if highly derivative, comic book or film, it’s pretty weak fare even for those who appreciate dark fantasy.

Bottom line: Skip it. Aside from a very few minor introspective references to his own history by Arthur Conan Doyle there is nothing of particular interest for the Sherlockian reader. If there’s anything more of interest in the two follow-up titles in the series, TEARS OF THE FURIES and the October 2006 release STONES UNTURNED, I just haven’t the patience to find out!
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The Nimble Man: A Novel Of The Menagerie
Author: Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski
First Published: September 2004 -  Ace Books
Format: Paperback 352 pages
ISBN: 0-4410-1215-9 (paperback)
Price: $6.99 USD

Reviewed by: Charles Prepolec

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