Table of Contents
ALSO BY WALTER MOERS
The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear
A Wild Ride through the Night
The City of Dreaming Books
This edition first published in the United States in 2009 by
The Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc.
141 Wooster Street
New York, NY 10012
Copyright © Piper Verlag GmbH, München 2007 Translation copyright © 2009 John Brownjohn
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.
Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available from the Library of Congress
eISBN : 978-1-590-20518-1
‘Up is down and ugly is beautiful.’
Let my magic brew revive
that which used to be alive.
Let my bubbling cauldron seethe
till the creature starts to breathe.
Brought to life it then shall be
by the power of alchemy.
icture to yourself the sickest place in the whole of Zamonia! A little town with winding streets and crooked houses, and looming over it a creepy-looking castle perched on a black crag. A town afflicted by the rarest bacteria and the oddest diseases: cerebral whooping cough, hepatic migraine, gastric mumps, intestinal acne, digital tinnitus, renal measles, mini-influenza, to which only persons less than one metre tall are susceptible, witchinghour headaches that develop on the stroke of midnight and disappear at one a.m. precisely on the first Thursday of every month, phantom toothaches experienced only by persons wearing a full set of dentures.
Picture a town where there are more apothecaries and herbalists, quacks and tooth-pullers, crutch manufacturers and bandage weavers than anywhere else on the Zamonian continent. Where ‘Ouch!’ is the conventional form of greeting and ‘Get well soon!’ takes the place of ‘Goodbye’. Where the air smells of ether and pus, cod-liver oil and emetics, iodine and putrefaction. Where people vegetate and wheeze instead of living and breathing. Where nobody laughs, just moans and groans.
Picture a place where the buildings look as sick as their occupants: houses with hump-backed roofs and leprous façades from which shingles keep falling and plaster dust trickles down the walls - houses precariously leaning on each other like cripples in danger of collapse or precariously poised on crutches of scaffolding.