An award-winning author whose young-adult novels have gone out of fashion makes a Faustian bargain with a Hobbit-like creature in this broad, darkly hilarious sendup of high fantasy and publishing.
Philip Murdstone, “still good-looking, in a crumply vicar sort of way,” is broke. It’s been years since Last Past the Post, his novel about sensitive adolescents, won “all those prizes” (like Peet’s own teen novels) and “made Asperger’s cool.” Philip’s latest has sold just 313 copies. The solution, says his agent, the delicious Minerva Cinch, is to change gears: produce a trilogy filled with a Dark Lord, Orcs, Shire-dwellers, a magick sword, plenty of capital letters and stray apostrophes, and most important, an Amulet. Unfortunately, Philip loathes Phantasy. After drowning his sorrows in Dark Entropy beer at a pub near his Dartmoor cottage, he belches his way to a nearby stone circle, relieves himself against a standing stone, and subsides into the grass, where he receives a vision. A “Greme” called Pocket Wellfair appears and dictates the first part of a saga of the Realm, complete with exiled hero, corrupt wizard, and the lost Amulet of Eneydos. Philip hurries home to type it up. The resulting novel, which Philip calls Dark Entropy, is brilliant but incomplete. Pocket reappears and offers Philip the rest of the story in exchange for the Amulet, which the evil wizard has hidden somewhere in the real world. Philip’s quests for the Amulet, a path into Minerva’s panties, fame, and fortune lead him from the New York literary landscape to the Dalmatian coast and the Himalayan highlands, ever deeper into drink, eschatology, and scatology.
Bitter and frothy as a pint of stout, this formula-thwarting satire will intoxicate fantasy fans with strong stomachs.