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on March 20, 2015 :
Five Stars- An ingeniously unorthodox and smartly crafted adventure comedy
This is a magnificently ambitious, daringly peculiar and uproariously funny mock epic. What a relief in a time when the genre seems to be stuck in a grim, dystopian future-leaning rut! The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People succeeds in sublimely mocking and satirizing nearly every cliché, trope, plot device and convenience that run rampantly through the books written for a young adult audience. It is an unexpected delight for those like me who are distressed and wearied by the tedious overuse of easy narrative convention and lazy formula in modern storyline composition.
The novel is by no means limited to this perspective however. Though the humor ranges from goofy to cerebral, the subtlety of the satire is such that it allows a more straightforward interpretation. That is not a bad thing. Many will undoubtedly read it as a zany and imaginative fantasy odyssey. They will have abundant justification for such an opinion. There is enough wild and impeccably designed adventure contained in these pages to satisfy anyone interested in experiencing an exciting thrill. The protagonist Tommy is forced through an Ovidian gamut of stories whose predestined conclusions he must protect from being mangled by the fantastic villain Facinorous; each one brimming with trippy scenarios, bizarre creatures and heaps of entertaining action.
Pockets of excellent writing can be found in every chapter. The prose flows with a wry wit that is lyrical and downright poetic in some places. Mirthful rhymes, the majority of them rhyming couplets, are sprinkled throughout the entire text in various unpredictable sections. They follow no specific pattern in terms of placement and seem the products of jocular whimsy and merry Fancy and satirical whim. They add an artful flavor to the work and are fun to track down as you read. It gives the impression at times that the book itself was somehow co-authored by the cunning primary antagonist (repeatedly referred to as the “the rhyming wretch”) whose subversive and wonderfully clever dialogue, characterized by its periodic brilliance and refreshing audacity, more often than not features structured rhymes.
The only criticism I can offer for the novel (besides a handful or so of minor grammatical errors-venial sins!) is that it is mammoth of length. And boy is it long! It is a massive tome into whose roomy expanse a fleet of middle grade fiction fare could conceivably be crammed. Though this is sure to deter some less adventurous readers, I view it as an insignificant issue as the work is such an engaging read that the pages fly by at an alarming rate and before you know it you are finished and left wanting more. This great book rewards your tenacious dedication.
(reviewed 31 days after purchase)