A new-adult fantasy novel invokes the magic of sorcery and stories.
Pierce King has everything figured out. At the age of 26, he’s finally landed his dream job at a major Los Angeles publisher, and he’s poised to marry the woman of his dreams. But his life gets completely scrambled when a strange homeless man attacks him with a book and he finds his world consumed by magic. The novel’s oral storytelling style really sells this transition, which might otherwise feel awkward. Instead, the prose delivers the emergence of magic and the shifts between point-of-view characters with a wink and a nod that keep the tale fun and engaging. Pierce knows he has to return the world to normal to stop the chaos—not to mention saving his fiancee from transforming into a troll—but to do that he’ll have to contend with more than a few supernatural challenges and some beings with vested interests in how the magic shakes out. Along the way, Pierce tries to sort through who his friends and enemies are, from Rex, his childhood pet–cum-dragon, and a fastidious rabbit to the vagrant who started it all and a demon who used to be an orca. Finally, Pierce also has to contend with his own relationship with magic, which goes much deeper than the stories he loved as a child or the ones he brings to life now. Walsh’s (The Serpent League, 2019, etc.) book is, ultimately, a charming adventure yarn that will satisfy many readers. Others may take issue with the story’s tendency to idolize Pierce, whether for his past lives in Arthurian legend or the more mundane fact that he goes from an assistant to a department head in one step. In addition, the tale occasionally implies disparaging things about contemporary SF and fantasy stories more committed to themes, deeper meanings, and representation: “The only thing these piles of nonsense could catch are the attention of people who can’t tell fantasy and current affairs apart.” The novel is captivating when it focuses on its own fun but tiring when it eyes the rest of the genre.
A delightful adventure with an idealized hero.