Geek Fantasy Novel

E Archer, Author
E. Archer, Scholastic Press, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-545-16040-7
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-545-33248-4
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Author Eliot Schrefer (The Deadly Sister), writing as Archer, turns his hand toward comedic fantasy in this highly self-aware, genre-defying romp. Fourteen-year-old Ralph Stevens escapes his humdrum life when he's invited to spend the summer with his British cousins, ostensibly to set up their wireless network. What he discovers is a family given to eccentricity, from boisterous Cecil to solemn Beatrice and would-be princess Daphne. Things get seriously weird when their infamous aunt/fairy godmother Chessie of Cheshire turns up, ready to grant each child a wish. From that point on, it's pure chaos: Cecil's wish becomes a twisted satire of fairy tale quests and politics invoking the spirits of Terry Pratchett and Monty Python; Daphne's tears apart the classic fairy tale, "The Snow Queen;" and Beatrice's wish takes Ralph into the land of the dead. There's a high level of metatextual playfulness, from a Choose Your Own Adventure–style interlude to the active participation of the narrator(s) and the unconventional ending, which set this book apart from its ilk. Comic and experimental, it may be an acquired taste, but it defies expectations at every turn. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
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