cover image The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp

Richard Yancey, Author . Bloomsbury $16.95 (339p) ISBN 978-1-5

After his single mother dies, the oversized, underachieving, totally endearing narrator, Alfred Kropp, is sent to Tennessee to live with his uncle, a night watchman for a business titan. Uncle Farrell, chronically poor, can't refuse a $1 million offer to retrieve a sword from the executive suite. His 15-year-old nephew, however, has reservations—"I'm not too quick on the uptake... but this whole thing smells fishy to me"—until Uncle Farrell threatens to return Alfred to foster care if he refuses to help. The attempt ends disastrously: saber-wielding monks demand the sword, motorcycle thugs fire shotguns as Alfred races across the Interstate, and in Europe, he winds up in battles where heads fly—literally. Everyone and everything has a secret identity—the monks, the sword, the hero, just to name a few. The high-speed car chases, spectacularly gory deaths and Arthurian echoes seem tailor-made for a Hollywood action flick, but it's Alfred's naiveté and basic good nature that make this pageturner stand out in the crowded fantasy adventure genre. Like J.K. Rowling, first-time YA novelist Yancey (Confessions of a Tax Collector , for adults) deftly leavens the heavier plot elements with humor; this story of a "big-headed loser" is as funny as it is scary. Alfred's adventures are not the only element of this tale that is extraordinary—the reluctant hero is, too. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)