A split-screen debut autobiography shuttles between the real world and realms of fantasy.
In this account of his life and times, Saunders alternates between two extremes. Although he gives readers precious little in the way of padding for the shock of transition, he’s such a natural storyteller that most will likely hang on despite the unbridgeable dichotomy at the heart of the book. On the one hand, Saunders tells the entirely quotidian story of his existence in the observable world. Born in 1977 in Connecticut to working-class parents, he recounts growing up in Illinois and near the levy of New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain, riding his bike, and visiting candy stores with other little boys. On the other hand, he spins a fantastic yarn about being a 22,818-year-old (“give or take a century”) reincarnated supernatural being from the Other World, the half-breed son of a half elf and half vampire named Lanadra and a half-angel and half-devil hybrid called Balatas. The real-world Saunders listened to rock music, went to school, and crushed on girls. He became a reverend through the Universal Life Church. The Other World Saunders, Riolis Silverwolf, an “Apyrogothric/Archangelic/Elder Vampiric/Elvin Elder” known as “Abomination,” consorts with fairies and dragons, has visited Earth for 100-year intervals for millenniums, and was responsible for the sinking of the lost city of Atlantis. The author makes some valiant attempts to link these two halves of his story—he periodically indulges in bromides about how “we are taught that magick is not real. Dragons, fairies, and other such things are myths” until readers’ spiritual eyes are opened, but such efforts are doomed, and surely the antic, joking tone Saunders often employs signals that he is aware of this. Rather, readers should just go along for the great ride the author has in store for them. The odd, unconventional book could use a strong housecleaning edit (there was no figure in history, for instance, called “Vlad the Impellor”), but the larger tale here—a sprawling fantasy life lived right alongside school, work, and friends—remains tremendously appealing.
A rollicking and readable demon- and dragon-haunted memoir of an old soul in the modern world.