A tiny troublemaker wreaks havoc on a mystified household in this charming children’s fable.
He’s as tall as a pencil, with a doorknob-shaped nose, a long tail with a barbed tip that makes a fine grappling hook, and a voice â€œas loud as the ticking of a grandfather clock.” When he springs into existence in a chimney knothole, the titular Imp has a personality that’s finely balanced between self-pity and egotism–he considers himself the â€œloneliest” and â€œthe smartest imp in the whole world”–and a paranoid conviction that the world is full of enemies that’s reinforced when he singes his tail in the fireplace. In his nocturnal wanderings through the house, he’s motivated only by curiosity, hunger and a need to protect himself against the looming threats he perceives everywhere. But to the rest of the household, especially the hard-hearted housekeeper Septuagesima, the aftermath–pilfered cookie jars, spilled cereal boxes, oversalted soup–seem like works of malicious pranksters. The family’s young children, Alan and Alice, take the blame and begin to develop â€œcomplexes” from their undeserved punishment, but as the impishness escalates to missing shoes, sprung mousetraps and a flooded kitchen Septuagesima starts to suspect their father of madness. Meanwhile, as the Imp and a loquacious mouse confront the danger posed by the housecat Drip and the totalitarian menace of brown rats bent on world domination, the mischief shades toward destruction with serious consequences. In this superbly crafted children’s story, the Imp is a charismatic protagonist, neurotic but appealing in his diminutive grandiosity. His hilarious misadventures, nicely episodic to facilitate bedtime storytelling, are cunningly choreographed and flow organically from the predicaments imposed on small, uncomprehending figures by a big, oblivious world. The result–an imaginative, beautifully written fantasy with overtones of Dr. Seuss, Lemony Snicket and George Orwell–is a comic gem.
A sparkling fairy tale that mixes whimsical adventure with slightly darker pathos.