A fictional character’s megalomaniacal scheme to insert himself into every novel ever written precipitates a merry chase through meta-realms in this brain-cracking sequel.
Following nine pages that are blacked out except for a few tantalizing words, putative protagonist Owen (“nonfictional” dweeb) and Kiel Gnomenfoot (cocky hero of a popular fantasy series) start off Chapter 10 in a burning library. With no memory of recent events, they are informed by masked nemesis Doyle Holmes (fictional descendant of Sherlock) that their bestie Bethany (half-fictional and able to travel at will between books and the “real world”) will be permanently out of the picture in two hours. Things skid toward further catastrophe in a whirl of captures, rescues, cliffhangers, flashbacks and point-of-view switches, redacted and renumbered chapters, oblique digs at “real” novels, conflicting motives, and hackneyed literary tropes—many of which are subverted by the characters themselves on the way to a dizzying round of climactic twists. What with cameos and ongoing plotlines, readers are well-advised to keep the previous volume to hand for reference. By the end, Bethany and Owen, having demonstrated laudable quantities of guts and wits, swear off book-diving forever. Fat chance, as the author, in his alter ego as “nobody,” emerges into view to start the next episode (and dramatize the acknowledgements).
Likely to leave more than a few punctures in even the most levelheaded reader’s sense of reality. (Metafictional fantasy. 10-13)