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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: My Sparkling Misfortune

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Title: My Sparkling Misfortune
Author: Laura Lond
Page Count: 481 KB
Publisher: self-published
Genre: young adult, fantasy, first in a series
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle readily admits that he is a villain and sees no reason why it should stop him from being the protagonist of this book. After all, Prince Kellemar, an aspiring hero, has defeated him in a rather questionable way. Bent on revenge, Arkus attempts to capture a powerful evil spirit who would make him nearly invincible, but a last-minute mistake leaves him with a Sparkling instead—“a goody-goody spirit that helps heroes, watches over little children, and messes up villains’ plans.” Bound to Lord Arkus for five years of service and sworn to act in his best interests, the Sparkling is not easy to get rid of, and of course his understanding of “best interests” is quite different from what Lord Arkus has in mind.

This story is super cute!  I love a good fantasy story with a rather unconventional narrator, and this story fits the bill perfectly.  Add in the fact that the story is illustrated with really awesome black and white illustrations that would be perfect as writing prompts for young writers and you have a fun, short book that's a great way to spend an afternoon.

If you were to look up curmudgeon in the dictionary, you'd probably find Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle listed as an example.  He's rude, a self-proclaimed villain, and he doesn't care what you think about either of those things, thank you very much.  He spends his days doing respectably villainous things and he doesn't hold with heroes or the unfair attention they receive.  To that end, he tries to summon an evil spirit to give him unimaginable powers.  Unfortunately he ends up getting a Sparkling, which is like the Boy Scout of the spirit world.  Now the Sparkling is bound to him, and having a supernatural conscience isn't the best thing that could happen to a villain, to say the least.

Because the Sparkling is bound to act in Arkus's best interests, it means that many of the best laid villainous plans get stopped before they can start.  It'd kind of like what would happen if Wily E. Coyote had a bound servant whose job it was to tell him every time there was an anvil about to fall on his head.  It makes for clever and witty banter between the two of them; it isn't like Arkus WANTS his plans to fail, he just doesn't want some goody goody pointing those things out to him.

Through it all is a really thoughtful conversation on what, specifically, makes someone a hero.  Throughout the story, it's pointed out that people that want to be heroes tend to just want others to admire them, but that people who do heroic things tend to just want to be left alone, since in their minds they're just doing what needs to be done.  As the story goes on, Arkus has to decide where he fits into all of this; his inner dilemma adds depth and detail to the story that I really enjoyed.

The entire cast of characters in this story is well drawn and each adds something unique to the story.  A favorite of mine was Prince Philip, a young man who pretty much wants to be Arkus when he grows up, and reading about how Arkus deals with having an admirer like this was fun.  I highly recommend this story for fans of middle grade fantasy who are looking to start a new series.

Laura Lond has graciously offered up one Kindle-compatible copy of My Sparkling Misfortune to one lucky winner here during the festival! You know the drill- to enter, fill out the form below. Thanks and good luck!

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