cover image Stork Naked

Stork Naked

Piers Anthony, . . Tor, $24.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0409-4

At the start of Anthony's routine 30th Xanth novel, Stymy Stork refuses to deliver Surprise Golem's baby, because Surprise is too young, per the dictates of the Adult Conspiracy. After the stork flies off with his bundle, Surprise, the two bratty children she's babysitting and the pet peeve (the obnoxious bird of 2005's Pet Peeve ) resolve to bring the baby back. Their meandering quest takes them through various alternate Xanths, including Lion Mountain, complete with Mountain Lion, and the Punderground. Hardcore Xanth fans will enjoy the pun-filled journey, but other readers may raise their eyebrows at how often the Adult Conspiracy fails to protect teenage girls from sexual activity. In the end, Surprise and her baby reach home—but is this the home and husband they left? At least the book closes with a tantalizing question to set up the sequel. (Oct.)