Why I Read It: I needed some graphic art in my life.
Where I Got It: Own it.
Who I Recommend This To: Enjoy coming of age stories? Dragons? Knights? Don Quixote? Check this work out.
Publisher: Archaia (2013)
Length: 120 pages
This is the tale of Wendell, a nerdy dragons & fantasy loving kid bullied by other kids, Ted, Wendell’s motorcycle-loving step-father, and a deranged knight living in an abandoned fairgrounds. Wendell seems to have few ambitions at the beginning of the book, but I cut him slack since he is probably somewhere around 16. He likes reading books, especially if there are monsters and partially clad women in them. Who can blame the kid? After messing up on a simple motorcycle maintenance task and being tossed out of the garage, he wanders looking for a nice tree to read under. Some school bullies come along and after the requisite name-calling and shoving, dare him to go to the old haunted fairgrounds and steal a pamphlet as proof. That is where Wendell is challenged, in more ways than one, by the reality-challenged knight. The rest of the book shows their few adventures together.
I enjoyed this book from the beginning, in part because there is this fake pamphlet at the beginning that shows the fairgrounds and has lots of words that end in unnecessary ‘e’s. Ye olde booke was a delight from there on out. I could relate to Wendell on many levels. While my parents are still together, plenty of friends and family come from homes with step-parents or grandparents or aunties, etc. acting as the secondary parental figure. Also, he is a book nerd. If you’re here reading this review, then you get that. For the longest time, you could NOT find a SFF novel that portrayed a woman clothed in practical clothing suitable for space flight or dragon combat (some publishers still have this problem and yes, they know who they are), so it’s no surprise that Wendell’s mother’s few lines are about one of his fantasy books that have scantily clad women. Been there. Had that conversation. Then there is the awkward conversations between step-dad Ted and teenaged Wendell. Ah, the awkwardness comes through in simple gestures and looks, thanks to the art work.
The 16th century classic Don Quixote was given several nods in this work (Northrop & Stokely – thanks for that windmill). The knight isn’t quite who I expected him to be, but he eventually gets there in the end. It was a fine journey arc for his character. The clash of the old and the new, the modern-day reality and fantasy don’t clash in this book, but rather shake hands and agree to look the other way. There is this great scene with the motorcycle and a mythical beast that I won’t ruin for you. If I have any complaints, it is that there are zero main female characters, and in fact, zero secondary female characters. But do not despair, this book isn’t as bad as The Hobbit for female character count (which has a grand total of zero females at all – even if you look closely at the donkeys) as there are some female tertiary and very minor side characters.
The art work was crisp and clear, though the modern-day men all had square pants which gave them the unlikely square groin. The biologist in me wanted to know if this was portraying a medical condition, but I told that nosy scientist to shut up and eat popcorn while the rest of me enjoyed my book. The action scenes felt like action scenes. Many of the more heavy or mixed emotional scenes were portrayed with a series of clever gestures and facial expressions.
I originally requested this book from Netgalley. Alas, I had some technical difficulties due to the fact that I live in a very rural area. There are no cell phone services, pager services, cable, G3, G4, or wifi (other than our local house wifi). To add to that, I have an older Kindle that needs to talk with cell service to download. It will not chat with my house wifi. By the time I figured out the new ADE DRM super secret ultra-adult diaper protection software for downloading books to my computer (I was recovering from ankle surgery and wouldn’t be driving to the nearest kindle/cell service area any time soon), this book had been archived. I put in a query, not once, but twice, to Netgalley to either open it up briefly so I could download or to let the publisher know that I couldn’t download the book due to technical difficulties and therefore would not be reviewing the book. I received zero response on this query. I have not used Netgalley much. It may stay that way, as all book bloggers know authors & publishers are quite ready to throw books in our general direction anyway, even without services like Netgalley. Still, it resides on my queue on Netgalley, so I will be posting my review there. Also, I want the folks there to know that this is an awesome book and worthy of more readers. In the end, I bought my own copy off of Amazon.com. I’m glad I did.
What I Liked: The art work; Wendell was immediately easy to like and connect with; Don Quixote references; all the extras at the back of the book; the fake pamphlet at the beginning of the book; the evolution of Ted’s and Wendell’s relationship; it had a most satisfying ending.
What I Disliked: Almost no female characters and none with a significant role.
What Others Think: