A teenager explores a magical realm in this novel by Dave (Hell in a Handbasket, 2016, etc.).
The kingdom of Phantasy is, as the name suggests, a land filled with fantasy and enchantment. Once an “eternally peaceful and evergreen kingdom,” Phantasy has become dangerous during the reign of King Devonus. After Devonus’ brother Secondras turns out to not actually be his sibling but a cruel warlock, it is clear that something peculiar is in the works. Such an event occurs when Devonus’ wife, Katrina, dies after giving birth to a son. As Devonus fears for the safety of the child, who will be known as Dave, he sends the boy to a far-off land on Earth called Singapore. In Singapore, young Dave will mature before returning “to the kingdom of Phantasy as the Crown Prince and rightful heir to the throne.” Fifteen years pass and Dave has grown up to be a “bespectacled and pudgy young lad” who remains unaware of his royal heritage. Then he encounters two fantastical creatures. The duo—a talking Doberman and a “giant broken egg pieced together in a rather unprofessional way!”—informs Dave of his background and brings him back to Phantasy. But will Dave be able to handle his role as prince? The story unfolds as a lighthearted fairy tale. With a smattering of jokes aimed at the modern reader (“Seriously, what had Dave gotten himself into!” the narrator exclaims), the story develops in a traditional way, albeit with plenty of knowing winks. Details of life in Singapore and Dave’s overall goofiness help to spark interest in the protagonist (At 15, he discovers Gundam and Transformers and is “truly fascinated by them and their transforming abilities”). But portions of overexplanation can cause the narrative to lag, as when the reader encounters a lengthy description as to how and why Singapore was chosen as Dave’s destination. But on the whole, the novel reads as easily as a tale for youngsters with splashes of grown-up humor.
Despite some sluggish portions, this playful book makes for a fun romp through real and imagined worlds.