The Prince of Neither Here Nor There

Sean Cullen


An Introductory Note from the Narrator

Hello, Person. Welcome to the book. I have been chosen to be your narrator for as long as this story lasts. I can’t help pointing out that you are especially lucky. I am the best.

Narration is a serious business to be taken seriously by serious people. Fortunately for you, I am an extremely serious person. I rarely smile and I am very careful about personal hygiene. Not that people who are clean don’t smile… I am however very clean and I rarely do smile.

As always in the books I narrate, there are numerous footnotes, those little tiny numbers throughout the text that direct a reader to the corresponding number at the bottom of the page where an explanation of a difficult term or perhaps a clarification of a plot point will be found. Be sure to read these footnotes. I take a lot of time preparing them and, indeed, I was given several awards for best footnoting at the Institute for Advanced Narration in Helsinki, Finland. 1 I also received the Footnoter of the Year Award three years in a row. The award comes with a tiny trophy that I have placed on a tiny shelf just below and to one side of the large shelf where I keep my large trophies.

The beginning of a series of books is always a momentous time. We are about to embark on a journey together into realms unknown. We will meet characters of many stripes. 2 We will delve into dark places and find great joy and sorrow. Therefore, I suggest that you examine your intentions and be sure you are ready to make the commitment to finish this tale once you have started. 3

I always take precautions when starting a new story. I make sure I have plenty of hand lotion to keep my fingertips moist as I peck away at my keyboard. It wouldn’t do to get chapped tips! With each keystroke, the pain would become more and more intense, and unconsciously I would tend to make the story more and more bitter. I also try to have several extra pairs of fresh underpants handy. When I get involved in my writing I often lose track of time. In addition, I have a specially designed chair that massages my lower back at the touch of a button.

Perhaps you have enjoyed some of my earlier work. I narrated Langar the Electric Donkey: Parts One Through Seventeen. 4 I also won several awards for my narration of The Secret Life of Soap, a work of non-fiction that was praised as “a foamy and delightful odyssey through the life of a bar of soap” by The New York Times Book Review. Most recently, I narrated the very popular Hamish X series, which received several accolades, including Best Use of Cheese and Pirates. My point is that I know what I’m doing, so you can relax and just enjoy the book you are about to read.

The Prince of Neither Here Nor There is the first in a series of books about a boy named Brendan who doesn’t realize his true nature. Certainly, sometimes we are all confused about who we are. For several days last month I was convinced I was a little French girl named Collette, but that was after a sharp blow to the head I received during a bank robbery. 5 The boy in The Prince of Neither Here Nor There, Brendan, finds himself caught in a struggle between two worlds as he tries to find out where he fits into both. During the course of the story he will face strange and unknown dangers, discover new and amazing powers, and meet friends and family he never knew existed. I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll leave it at that. Suffice it to say that you will like this story: it will be exciting and fun! So keep reading!

This is also a story about Faeries. Not Fairies. There’s a big difference, and it isn’t just that one is spelled with an “e.” Fairies are ineffectual little things that flit about in children’s stories, shoot magic dust into people’s faces, and dress up in flower petals and all that hooey. Insipid little things! No. No. No! The Faeries we will be dealing with are something different altogether! They are a noble race, an ancient race, often marvellous and magical but just as often deadly and dangerous. I hope you are up to this. If not, put down this book and back away carefully.

If you haven’t backed away, I assume that you are going to continue reading. Good! You’re just the sort of reader I admire. Let’s get down to it! How shall I start? Hmmmm. I know. How about a prologue? Sounds like a plan…

Now, let’s begin. Since this is technically a Faerie Tale we should start with a suitable phrase. Are there any four words more filled with excitement and anticipation than…

Once upon a time…

^1 Good. You read this footnote. I think we’re going to get along just fine.

^2 By “characters of many stripes” I do not mean that the people will literally be striped. I mean that they will be quite different from one another. If this were to be a story about a group of zebras, then, most certainly, the characters involved would have a stripy tendency.

^3 In ancient China, during the Han Dynasty, anyone who started reading a book but didn’t finish it was thrown in prison and had to stay there for as long as it took for the warden to read the book in question. One would always hope that the warden was a speed-reader.

^4 Langar the Electric Donkey is now sadly out of print in the English language but is still available in

^5 I was not robbing the bank! Get that thought out of your mind. I was waiting in line to obtain a money order when bank robbers entered the establishment. I objected to their butting in front of me in line and was pistol-whipped for my pains. Pistol-whipping is painful but never as painful as being shot with a pistol. I suggest that you try to avoid both options if at all possible.


… A storm lashed Saint Bartholomew’s Orphanage as though intent on peeling the slate roof away to gain entry to the old redbrick building on Liberty Street. 6 St. Bart’s stoically withstood the howl of the wind and the torrents of rain as it had for over a century. Water gushed from its leaky gutters, pooling in the asphalt courtyard and overflowing the sewer grate, creating a small lake at the bottom of the cracked stone steps leading up to the front door. In the flashes of lightning the slate roof tiles glistened like molten lead traced with silver. The building seemed to cringe as the thunder rolled across the purple night sky. 7

St. Bart’s had begun its life as the chapel of Toronto Central Prison in the late nineteenth century. 8 The prison, now long since demolished, was located on what was then the outskirts of the young city of Toronto. Farther west, along the waterfront, was the small affluent village of Parkdale, home to the rich burghers 9 who could afford to be away from the soot and train yards of the growing metropolis. The prison was built on land that was surrounded by warehouses, rail yards, and the pungent hog slaughter yards that gave Toronto its nickname “Hogtown.” 10

When it was built, the prison was hardly in a coveted location. No respectable person would want to live next to a slaughter yard on a rail line. But the reek of pig manure and the clatter of freight trains were thought to be a fitting addition to the misery of those incarcerated for their crimes. Decades later the prison was shut down as the city swelled westward to encompass its grounds. The only vestige of the correctional facility was the grimy chapel and the name of the road that ran before it, Liberty Street.

The chapel escaped destruction only because a Catholic charity that cared for orphans was willing to take on the task of renovating the building for their needs. The nuns of St. Bartholomew raised the money from wealthy, guilty Catholics to turn the chapel into a dormitory for children made bereft of parents by accident or neglect. Their young charges slept in rows of cots by night and learned their letters by day in a schoolroom overlooking the bleak asphalt playground that had once been the convicts’ exercise yard.

St. Bart’s had endured much over the decades, but slowly the district around it slid further into decline. Industry moved to cheaper locations outside the city, and the orphanage gradually crumbled despite the sisters’ best efforts. St. Bart’s was teetering on the brink of a precipice of debt.

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