Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review - My Sparkling Misfortune

My rating: 4/5

Laura Lond has written an absolutely delightful novella about a villain who finds himself plagued with a goody-two-shoes helpful spirit who's determined to make him a better man. This is one of the most thoroughly charming stories I've read in a long time.

Lord Arkus is a sword-wielding villain with a castle in a pestilential swamp and a bloodthirsty army ready to do his bidding. He's doing his best to terrorize the local kingdoms, kidnapping royal heirs for ransom and generally being thoroughly evil. Then a series of misfortunes puts him on the run and ready to risk everything to capture a gormack, an evil spirit of great power.

It goes wrong, though, and he accidentally captures a sparkling. The sparkling, to Arkus's considerable embarrassment, thinks Arkus is a great guy, somewhere deep down inside. Most of the book is a hilarious battle of wills as Arkus tries to corrupt the sparkling, and the sparkling takes Arkus's every evil scheme and turns it into something noble and good. Arkus, determined to inspire dread and terror, instead finds himself showered with gratitude and admiration. Every gift, every thank-you, every banquet in his honour, just drives his blood pressure higher.

There is depth to the story as well. Arkus is forced on a difficult journey of self-discovery. Arkus, and several other characters, face excruciating choices. There are moral dilemmas with no easy solutions. Friendships are forged, tested, destroyed. It's powerful storytelling.

It's not a perfect tale. There are minor proofreading issues, and the book could really use a good editor. Nothing is seriously wrong, but there are sentences that are awkwardly phrased or that come out a bit clumsy. None of this detracts much from my enthusiasm for the story. It's such a terrific, fun, entertaining story that I forgive every minor technical issue.

As an added bonus, the book is illustrated by the highly gifted Alla Alekseyeva. Her beautiful black and white pictures are a great addition to the story.

My Sparkling Misfortune was great fun to read, and I will be picking up the sequel.

Buy it on Smashwords.

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