I’ve previously talked about how charming Andi Watson’s Glister is, but that was when you had to import the stories from the UK. Now Dark Horse has brought out a single-volume edition with all four of the stories and plenty of extras. (You can see some of them in this PDF Watson posted, ending up with encouragement for young readers to create their own stories.)
Glister is an energetic, intelligent young woman who lives in a fairytale-like world. Her home, Chilblain Hall, is so-named because it’s drafty (“draughty” in the very English text of the books), but it also holds numerous rooms and strange inhabitants.
In “The Haunted Teapot”, the title object is simply delivered in a package one day. (We don’t need to know why. That’s not important to the story, and this is the kind of imaginative fiction where things like that just happen.) It holds the ghost of an old-fashioned wordy novelist who wants Glister to type his last great book.
The ghost has no concern for Glister’s time or any other activities, so she must find a way to free herself from his demands. First, she tries selling the thing to a wonderfully ridiculous character, a shady antique dealer who used to be a professional wrestler. Finally, some research reveals the answer. The story rambles a bit, but in a lovely, “what might you want to hear next?” storytelling way. With plenty of humor, it’s just the thing for a cozy afternoon read.
“The House Hunt” goes further into the mysterious, magical rooms of Glister’s home, which are subject to change at whim. The village is competing to be recognized as a particularly nice place, and the inspector insults Chilblain Hall as ramshackle, so the house decides to leave, and Glister and her dad must find new accommodations. There’s a nice comparison between the efficiencies of a newer residence and the charm of and fondness for an old one. The imagination of world travel is also a fun inspiration.
“The Faerie Host” shows us Glister getting a little tired of her father’s elaborate, months-long preparations for Christmas. She wanders into faerieland seeking more information about her long-gone mother. The tone of this story is rather different from the others, from its classic allusions to folklore for dealing with fairies to the underlying sadness of Glister growing up with only one parent and how much she misses her mother.
“The Family Tree” grows various relations for Glister, and when they all visit at once, it’s quite a crowd. Glister hopes for warm memories of togetherness, but they all have their own interests, particularly the gambler who turns the home into a hotel. It’s a wonderful gang of weirdos who, as expected, all manage to come together when they must.
Watson’s illustrations are full of homey and yet slightly odd detail, particularly in Glister’s rambling old house and with her distracted father. Each volume is tinted with a different color ink line. The first, reddish, then blue, purple, and a greyish green.
Glister deserves to be on any child’s shelf, between Alice in Wonderland and The Phantom Tollbooth. These are modern fairy tales in the full British tradition.