Debut author Fentonmiller presents a novel about a man and his supernatural hat.
The reader first meets hat maker Kasper Mützenmacher in Berlin in 1923. Kasper is a feverish jazz enthusiast who likes nothing more than Duke Ellington and a glass of Bushmills. At a jazz club, Kasper meets a lively young woman named Isana, who mocks a horde of Nazis that storm the club. Her display draws the wrath of Klaus, rumored to steal women’s faces. One can only imagine what will happen to Isana when she is taken away. Kasper, though, is no ordinary hatter. Thanks to a curse passed down for generations, he’s forced into his trade. But he has access to some very peculiar headgear: a hat stolen from the Greek god Hermes that allows its wearer to transport to any conceived of location. If used incorrectly, the hat can lead users to become addicted to its powers. After Kasper uses the hat to rescue Isana, his life becomes even more perilous. But Kasper and his family’s safety are merely part of what becomes an epic, international adventure. All at once, the story is serious, fantastical, and alluringly strange. Horrors of the buildup to Nazi power mix with the idea that a family is cursed to stay in the hat business (which, as far as curses go, seems a pretty light one). Later chapters involve life in America, race relations in Detroit, and a stretched metaphor that people cannot be forced to change—much how “you’ll never make a bowler into a top hat.” The adventure stirs these elements in a way that keeps the reader guessing and intrigued about Kasper’s fate. Taking the concept of a transporting hat seriously can be difficult at times (one character is said to be “utterly powerless against the hat”); however, the book’s odd tone inevitably brings the reader to odd places. And they are places that culminate in an undeniably imaginative journey.
Beyond fantastical, but it keeps the reader eager to uncover its final destination.