AF Harrold’s latest offering marks a change from the freewheeling frivolity of his Fizzlebert Stump series. Venturing into the dark, modern fairytale territory, The Imaginary ponders what happens to imaginary friends once they’re forgotten. The answer is that they either fade into nothingness or are obliged to find new kids to befriend.
This is the plight of Rudger when the girl who has conjured him into being, Amanda Shuffleup, is knocked down by a car and falls into a coma. During his quest to be reunited with her, Rudger must contend with the jovial Mr Bunting, who eats “imaginaries” in order to live and has his own sinister unreal companion.
By turns scary and funny, touching without being sentimental, and beautifully illustrated by Emily Gravett, The Imaginary is a delight from start to finish.
The Imaginary, by AF Harrold, Bloomsbury, RRP£12.99, 224 pages