Character Indira Story lives in the fictional town of Origin and aspires to a plot of her own.
She works hard to make her dream come true: to travel to the city of Fable and attend Protagonist Preparatory, a school where famous characters such as Alice (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Romeo Montague train aspirants to become successful characters in actual stories. Ultimately, succeeding at Protagonist Preparatory would result in Indira’s being chosen by an Author in the Real World for their novel. Indira is determined to become a protagonist so that she can find her brother, David, a laborer in the town of Quiver, where he mines story nuggets. However, Indira fails her audition and begins to train as a side character. To make matters worse, her best efforts at school are sabotaged, and Fable itself is threatened. The question arises: Can a side character become a hero? Reintgen’s middle-grade debut is at once a fantastic adventure and a tribute to famous and popular literature. The plot feels rushed at times, but witty references—to literary characters and elements of the act of reading itself, like dog ears (envisioned as one-eared dogs who steal watches from anthropomorphic bookmarks )—make this novel enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny. There is nothing intrinsically Indian about brown-skinned Indira (as her name suggests but as her equally brown-skinned brother’s does not), but her-far-from positive experiences remind readers of the importance of working hard at their own stories.
Imaginative, fast-paced, and fun. (Fantasy. 8-12)