Maybe the last thing I expected when I started this book was that one aspect of my review would include the word “humbling”. But here it is. I was pretty confident that I was pretty familiar with British slang. I’m not. I’m really not. And it was humbling to see how much not. I was fine with stuff like “bin bags” and suchlike – but I have to admit in the context I stupidly thought “well jells” meant pudgy: like Santa, with a belly like jelly and all that. Nope: jealous. Jelly. Jells. Well = Very. ‘K. “Chirpsing” was entirely new to me.
This is one of those Netgalley selections which is obviously self-published, and has the sort of slipshod editing that unfortunately so often goes along with that – but which has a level of writing that deserves better. It’s funny and fun and gritty and occasionally surprising; it made leaps between making me smile at a really lovely turn of phrase (‘ Eathon laughed. “If you loosed an arrow at me I’d whip out my blade and whittle it into an unflattering portrait of you before it hit the ground.”‘ or “The pregnant pause ran to its third trimester”) to making me snarl over some stupid mistake (like mention of a rider’s “reigns”).
This is, of course, separate from the intentional wordplay, like “Sting with his tantrum sex” – it’s pretty clear when someone is being a Dogberry and when there’s an error.
Obviously, I loved the geek cred the author shows throughout. There’s Middle-earth and Dragonlance and Monty Python and stops in between. This book does not take itself too seriously. There’s a very serious story going on – first the shocking reality that this handful of kids has been transported to another world, with no knowledge of how to get back and a deadly mission they’re supposed to pull off; then that mission, a legitimate war against horrifying monsters which seems all but impossible to survive, much less win. But the way the story is told is light, irreverent, funny. These aren’t Lawful Good characters eagerly taking up arms to fight for the good – oh, no, these are ordinary geeky teenagers who are as likely to see what they can steal from any given setting as to fight the bad guys. They’re pretty much unpredictable – which is kind of great.
Now (say it with me) if only someone would clean these books up.
One thing, though – you cant beat that cover. I adore that cover.
“The Chosen One might be a special snowflake, but when the heat’s turned up, every snowflake melts.”
The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.