Where I Got It: A review copy from the author via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!).
Who I Recommend This To: Really, anyone who likes snarky villain stories would get a kick out of this.
Narrator: A. T. Chandler
Publisher: Self-published (2011)
Length: 3 hours 12 minutes
Series: Book 1 The Lakeland Knight
A professional villain needs to be cunning, clever, and sometimes swift to outrun lizard beasties. Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle in Arkusville is all these things. Unfortunately, the Prince Kellemar is also some of these things – like clever enough to trick Arkus and send him fleeing to the distant land of Eukaria. The wannabe hero Kellemar even goes so far as to spread rumor of Arkus’s demise at the Prince’s hands. Yes, Lord Arkus had great need for a powerful ally. So, he tried to capture an evil spirit, a Gormak, to assist him. Instead he ended up with a Sparkling, a benevolent spirit bent on doing good deeds in spite of his servitude to the villain Lord Arkus. The Sparkling Tulip of the flaming red hair doesn’t even get to keep his name in servitude, but is renamed by Arkus to Jarvis. I think Arkus is a bit of a control freak, don’t you?
The entire story is told in Arkus’s voice and Laura Lond had me laughing out loud from the start with Arkus’s snide comments on life and his high opinion of himself. Having his clever plans turned on him again and again was also amusing to listen to. Once he has his hands on a Sparkling, his evil attempts often then mysteriously turn into good deeds. Laura Lond often put me in giggles with Arkus’s near-constant frustration with his red-haired servant . This was a clever story from beginning to end laced with the themes of redemption and friendship.
While the cast is mostly male, there is a Princess and her two lady servants (perhaps a few more lady characters in future books?). I really expected the story to end with a wedding or engagement, but it doesn’t (whew!). The princess’s young brother, Prince Philip of Eukaria really takes a liking to Arkus, known in Eukaria as the Lakeland Knight. Even Tulip has a Sparkling friend, Elar, who readily gives his low opinion of Lord Arkus for enslaving his friend. Through the tale, it was fun to watch Arkus’s reactions to Prince Philip’s admiration, Tulip’s teasing and joking, and Elar’s disdain. The book flips back and forth between action and inner contemplation. There’s plenty of backstabbing, references to an annual Villains Conference, magical sword, splashing in a lake, castle envy, and horseback rides.
Narration: A. T. Chandler was perfect for the voice of Lord Arkus. His deep, rich voice often took on Arkus’s sneering tones to great effect. Chandler was also able to pull off an Irish accent for Tulip, which went well with his teasing and joking. The book was peppered with what I think of as Renaissance Fair music, which I liked better than the 1-heartbeat-too-long pauses between chapters (is there something wrong with my player? No, there, it is playing.).
What I Liked: Snarky, dark humor; Tulip’s dogged attempts to lighten Arkus’s mood and get him to consider a career change; the theme of redemption; the cover; the lizard beastie.
What I Disliked: Only 3 females, all with minor roles.
What Others Think: