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This review is for the audio version. From the book's description, and the enthusiastic reviews of other readers, I felt this book would be right in my wheelhouse. Among my favorites are: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, the Magicians series, Harry Potter, and the Monster Blood Tattoo series. I like both adult and YA/middle grade fantasies, as long as they're not too derivative. I figured this author would definitely write something original.
Unfortunately, I've just given up on Chapter 28 (out of 80). This book is just OVERLOADED with whimsy. Every paragraph introduces a new, (admittedly clever) magical concept, creature or artifact. I reached my limit when the lead character's pocket knife jumped out of his jacket and climbed up to his shoulder. There are semi-living magical machines that are powered by ground-up animals, a botanical spy who uses dandelion fluff as agents, multi-worlds that are traversed through a series of magical doors, talking animals (and vegetables), no less than TWO all-powerful magical objects (one a Golden Sphere, the other a Black Bauble), an "elephant gun" that shoots out not bullets but actual elephants ...and it just goes on and on.
This is a good choice for someone who likes books with a lot of whimsy; perhaps fans of the Xanth novels? It's not for me. It might make a good animated movie or television series. It reads a bit like a trippy piece of animation rendered in prose.
Reviewed in the United States on September 18, 2020
I had high expectations of this book. I gave it 11 chapters before throwing in the towel. Fantasy is fine but in here there is just too much weird, wild, whimsy, random details/objects/characters. It’s too crowded. There are so many leads and hints and possible paths for possible developments that my mind stopped trying to follow. And caring to follow. If I took drugs, I think I might really enjoy this book while in a second state. But stone cold sober, I can find no rules or structure to the tale, and things are too strange and random for my brain to enjoy the trip. Too bad.