Vol. 1. Boom!. Jul. 2020. 144p. ISBN 9781684155408. pap. $17.99. Rated: Teen+. fantasy
Kindt (Ether. Vol. 3: The Disappearance of Violet Bell) and Smith (Barbarian Lord) tear apart and repurpose fantasy and fairy-tale tropes and clichés to create this richly imagined first volume in an ongoing series. Eighteen-year-old Ansel’s belief that he doesn’t belong in the medieval fantasy village where he was raised is compounded when he experiences strange visions of another world. Seeking answers, he sets out to locate a mysterious group called the Folklords—much to the chagrin of the Guild of Librarians, a murderous cult who controls his village. Ansel is joined in his quest by Archer, an elf with a tragic past, and soon befriends a ferocious warrior going by the name Ugly, who’s on her own quest to find true-loves kiss in order to free herself from a curse. After fending off a murderous witch and winding their way through a labyrinth filled with captive gnomes forced to re-create works of classic literature, the party comes face-to-face with their quarry, and at the beginning of an escapade that will change the fabric of reality forever.
VERDICT A cleverly written, engaging metafictional adventure featuring a memorable and complex cast of characters.
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