A 1970s wife—secretly in a government project to fight supernatural invaders—must find a solution when a magical creature from a dangerous fantasy realm switches places with her husband.
Pseudonymous author Reede (Daisy Dukes ’n’ Cowboy Boots, 2017) conjures a semicomical urban fantasy focusing on the antics of Mindy Nichols, a young New Orleans wife and mom. Mindy is really an agent for the Inner Space Monitoring Alliance Team, a covert U.S. government task force that battles magical intruders from other realms. Readers are told that letting such entities go uncontrolled led to the two world wars. It’s 1975 (ignore the Hugh Jackman reference and other occasional dialogue anachronisms), and ISMAT’s new headache is the “Blink” phenomenon, wherein hostile fairy-tale beings—imps, cyclops, etc.—are teleporting into the U.S. apparently at random from a magical world called Ortharos. For each appearance, an earthling has to teleport to Ortharos in exchange, and outcomes are not good. During Mardi Gras masquerade time, Mindy discovers that her husband, Jim, is missing, having Blinked away. But replacing him is a house-elf–style “brownie”—the first Ortharian to be communicative and friendly. Mindy, to figure out what’s happening and save her family, disobeys standing orders to terminate such beings. Multiple story strands in short, addictive chapters, each in first-person narration by a different quirky character, follow Jim to Ortharos, where he meets a green-skinned witch and her enticing, imprisoned Rapunzel look-alike sister (named Rapunzel, in fact) and the cyclops queen. Meanwhile, Mindy contends with myriad crises and phantasmic fallouts back home. The best conceit is that mythic characters defy expectations of who’s good or evil (though an off-the-rack, Sauron-like baddie lurks behind it all). But with two sets of protagonists teleporting or dodging peril via hidden passageways, there are considerable storyline snarls involving who is doing what, where, and in which world before things intersect at the Bacchus Krewe parade in the French Quarter. (New Orleans addicts, nonetheless, will find somewhat less local color than they’ve grown to expect.) Paranormal romance followers who take the bouncy ride should delight in the playful tweaking of all the ingredients, including the Carnival king cake.
A frothy paranormal comedy-adventure that offers a respite from the usual brooding over messy werewolf/vampire love affairs.