"The Calling" by Philip Caveney is an excellent read that, though written for a younger audience, was thoroughly enjoyed by this rather ageing adult. The central character is a boy who wakes up on a train arriving at Edinburgh's Waverley Station without any memory of why he is there, how he came to be there, or, worst of all, who he is. The Edinburgh he finds himself in is a truly chaotic place, with the Festival in full swing. Even the policemen he approaches think that his story of loss of memory is part of a promotional stunt for a Fringe performance.
And then it becomes clear that the Edinburgh of the daytime has nothing to compare with the weirdness of the Edinburgh of the night, or of that particular night at least. The boy has arrived in the city on 2 August, and he wakes at midnight in a park to find that all the human residents of the city have entered a state of suspended animation and, as they do for 24 hours only every year, all the city's statues have answered "The Calling" and come to life.
As "what ifs" go, this is a superb basis for a novel. We follow the boy, christened "Ed" (for "Edinburgh") by some of the statues he meets, as he tries to come to terms with the situation he finds himself in. Not all of the statues are happy to find a "softie" awake in a city at a time they believe should be theirs alone, and the story begins to take a darker hue. Then "Ed" meets (the statue of) Sherlock Holmes, who sets out to try to discover why the boy is awake, and why he has lost his memory. With a little help from eminent scientist James Clerk Maxwell they begin to uncover parts of Ed's story, and devise a plan that might enable them to discover more in a way that would also allow the boy to escape from what is becoming, for him, an increasingly dangerous city.
En route to its destination this book does much to bring to life the characters of some of those depicted in the statues. We find David Livingstone (amongst others) unhappy with Sir Walter Scott's pomposity, and we find Queen Victoria and Prince Albert reunited long after death. This is a book you will enjoy. It is also a book that will have you seeing the city's many statues in a completely new light on your next visit to Edinburgh. And what happens to Ed in the end? You'll just have to read the book and find out.