Desperately trying to stay clean, ex-drug-addict Douglas Stewart flees from Minneapolis to Edinburgh, Scotland, where tough, worldly Grandma McLaren offers him a fresh start and a place to stay.
Douglas, with his exceptional talent for improvising complex, personalized songs, soon makes good money as a “busker,” or street musician. During the annual Edinburgh Festival, a counterculture Fringe Festival gets under way too. Guitar in hand, Douglas wows the crowds—until he’s approached by an ageless lady of regal bearing who demands a private audience. She won’t give her name, but when Douglas reflects on her song he goes into a trance, sings a wonderful song that vanishes the moment it comes into his head—and somehow knows that her name is Aine. Aine pays him with some white powder. Stupidly, Douglas shoots it up, but instead of getting high, he finds he can see fairy folk! Hundreds of them, of all types and aspects, are attending their own version of the Fringe. Quickly they become aware of Douglas’s regard; worse, one, a demonic gray horror, gives chase. Douglas takes refuge in a church whose pastor, Father Croser, can also see the fairies—out of one eye. With what seems like practiced ease, Croser captures and dispatches the demon—but then promises to destroy Douglas’s newly acquired vision by removing his eyes. Douglas desperately fights back and escapes, but now he’s part of the fairy world where, he learns, Aine has chosen to involve him in some sort of internecine struggle. But why?
Well-handled fantasy noir debut, with plenty of local color, arresting musical ideas, rapidly escalating gore index and a set-up promising any number of sequels.