Colfer’s brain is so eclectic; he packs so much on to the page — top-notch gadgets, German philosophy, mnemonics for the planets. Amazingly, there is also room for a thrilling plot and a cliffhanger: will the twins have their brains wiped as a thank you for their effective protection services?
Thrills aside, Colfer is thoughtful and interesting about what it is to be a twin (they are so often turned into freaks in children’s literature).
The last Artemis Fowl book came out in 2012, having lit up the pre-teen market in the 00s with a complex antihero, aggressive fairies and futuristic thriller plots. Fans of Eoin Colfer – or their younger siblings – will be relieved that the Fowl name rides again. In The Fowl Twins Artemis’s younger twin brothers, Myles and Beckett, are home alone on their fortified island examining a miniature troll when a deranged nobleman starts shooting and a Spanish nun arrives with Inquisitorial intentions. Colfer’s playfulness is in full swing, as puns fly and physics bends to the machinations of the twins, who are just as bad (or should that be good?) as Artemis. It is, inevitably, the start of a new series.
Almost 20 years after the publication of the first Artemis Fowl book, Colfer returns with the first in a new spin-off series. Several years after the events of The Last Guardian, Artemis is now on a mission to Mars and his father has reinvented himself as a champion of the environment. The 11-year-old Fowl twins take centre stage: impeccably dressed Myles with his IQ of 170 and blond, messy Beckett who sulks when he has to wear clothes. Left alone in the care of house security system NANNI for a single night, epic adventure beckons, involving a troll on the run, a nefarious villain and an interrogating nun. It's a wildly entertaining ride with all the high-adrenalin action, whipsmart dialogue, and ingenious gadgets you could hope for, filling something of a gap in the market.
Knowledge of the original books is by no means necessary, although I predict many readers will eagerly snap them up. The brand has a big year ahead. Puffin has just reissued the backlist, a new graphic novel is out this month and the long-awaited Artemis Fowl movie is scheduled for a May 2020 release.