Thanks to two young biblionauts and the alien transporter they snatched in the series opener, a weary writer finds both terror and inspiration in the fantasy world where his own novels are set.
Taking advantage of a school visit (plus the series premise that all “fiction” is actually real, somewhere) Josh and his pushy little sister, Maggie, engineer a trip to swords-and-sorcery “Wyrd World” with its nerdy but willing author/creator P.L. Cuthbertson. Unfortunately, Cuthbertson is immediately captured and hustled off to a dungeon. Fortunately, Josh has just reread the entire series and so knows of a secret entrance….And so it goes through multiple escapes from places like Gaurgum and the Mines of Karfax, plus encounters with “six-foot-long, puke-colored slugs” called Ouliths and other locals. Service pokes a little writerly fun as she goes (“news flash: famous authors snore”) and relies with comical frequency on Josh’s polka-dotted alien pet dit-dit to leap chasms or do whatever else is needed to expedite the plot whenever it hits a snag. She delivers her three travelers home at last, exhilarated and ready for sequels—both real and (in Cuthbertson’s case) the virtual, armchair sort.
A firmly tongue-in-cheek series hits its stride as Josh cuts out his earlier foot-dragging and shows signs of becoming an adrenalin junkie like his sister. (Science fiction. 8-12)