Author: Sasha Soren
Page Count: 420 pages
Publisher: Beach Books
Copy for review provided by the author via Other Shelf Tours in exchange for an honest review
50 words or less: Alice (of Wonderland fame) is missing, and it's up to Henry and Winnie Flapjack to find her. All hell (literal, figurative, and otherwise) breaks loose from there.
I've been waiting to read Random Magic for a long time- the tour has been going on for awhile now, and with each successive review, author interview, bonus feature, and what have you I've seen posted, it only spiked my interest further. I'm happy to say that the real experience of reading the book lived up to the vicarious one of hearing what other people thought of it.
First off, though, and this should definitely count as fair warning; this is not a book to read when you're tired, or when your brain is not functioning at maximum capacity. There is a lot of doublespeak, entendre, verbal acrobatics, and general mayhem woven into each and every page. No element of a published book is safe from the author's wacky sense of humor- even the blurbs at the beginning of the book get the once-over. Readers need to take time to digest what each sentence says, to let the world of the book kind of unfold and percolate, and to absorb what each character is and what he/she represents. This isn't a book you can skim and expect to get the full experience.
It's difficult to get into a lengthy discussion of the different elements of the story without giving something away; there's plenty to go over and to digest, and the only advice I can give is to read the book and then you'll get what I mean. The two main characters, Henry and Winnie Flapjack, are thrust into one misadventure/less-than-desirable situation after another and, whether through intuition, magic or sheer dumb luck, they survive. Mythological creatures and popular story characters lurk within every page; if you blink you might miss a reference or a play on words. I'll say right now- the Prologue is easily my favorite section- the verbal acrobatics really shine here, and the story hasn't even started yet!
And yet, within that same realm lies one thing that I didn't enjoy about the book. I did feel, at times, that the pace of the story suffered for the humor, and there were certainly times when I was hoping the witty banter would end and that we could just get on with it and move on to the next event. By that same count, Henry spends a lot of time in Too Stupid to Live territory, and Winnie spends a lot of time saving his ass; I admit there were many points where I was kind of hoping Winnie would relieve Henry of the responsibility of the adventure they were having and just let something eat him.
All things considered, though, this was an enjoyable book that falls decidedly off the beaten path of what's out there in fiction right now. There's plenty of fantasy and adventure to go around, wordplay that makes you think, and lots of twists and turns in the plot to make everything jive together nicely.
Overall Grade: B+