The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Preet

STATUS:  Should have put down.

I am conflicted about this book.  The writing is lively and of an enviable quality.  Preet’s vocabulary is something to aspire to.  My favourite discovery from the book was “horripilant”.  His characters were also exceptionally well realised.  Our protagonist, Philip Murdstone, is pretty much your stereotypical, angst-riddled, socially inept writer – replete with a cottage in the back end of nowhere and a drinking problem.  The odd little village where he lives is inhabited by modern-day versions of traditional stock characters from fantasy and this is truly genius.  It’s hilarious and masterly done.  However, it is Philip’s agent who is the star of the piece.  Minerva is Eddie Monsoon meets success and professionalism meets sex appeal.  Her scenes in this yarn provide much-needed relief to the veritable insanity of what is going on.  Philip’s sensitive, introverted books are good, but not selling.  Minerva gets him to write a fantasy trilogy.  Only, he doesn’t write it; it is channelled through him by Pocket, a Greme from another world.  This connection to the other world brings its own issues and suddenly Philip is brought into a fight between good and evil.  Pocket’s language, on a side note, is marvellous.  It’s pacey, otherworldly and affected enough to be fun, entertaining and discernible.  But it is this madness, this merging of the modern world with the exploits of a medieval fantasy one that I just wasn’t comfortable with.  I got to page 100 and decided to carry on.  I appreciate and enjoy Preet’s talent and it was the hope of meeting Minerva again that kept me going.  So I suspended all disbelief; allowed the book to be what it was at the cost of my entertainment; and I powered through.  Should I have, though?  As my partner just said:  reading shouldn’t be an endurance test.  It’s probably the style and the audience this is written for will probably love it.  I, on the other hand, enjoyed the “normal” bits.  I thoroughly enjoy fantasy, but want it kept in its box – as I do witty, modern-day comedies spiced with acerbic observations and satire.  If Preet had carried on with the normality and expanded further on the “fantastical” setting of Philip’s eccentric little home village, it would have produced a truly unique and entertaining keeper of a book.  However, it seemed to me that The Murdstone Trilogy allowed itself to be sucked into the actual fantasy world and it lost its way far beyond the point of no return.

2.25 out of 5

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