The three books I’m reviewing this time all have to do with magical lands I’ve read about before.
Board Stiff, by Piers Anthony – There’s really nothing new in this latest installment in the Xanth series, but hey, I’m a completist. The plot involves a virus wiping out all puns in the land, because not only are these books full of puns, but they also have to constantly acknowledge the fact that they are. The adventurers this time include a girl who turns into a board and a basilisk in human form, and obviously everyone hooks up with somebody else. I did like that there was an expanded role for Com Pewter, a formerly evil and now merely mischievous machine that can change reality in its vicinity, which travels in an android body.
Colorful Corniness in Oz, by Marin Elizabeth Xiques and Chris Dulabone – I knew from the website that this book would be short, but I was hoping it would have a little bit more content than it does. I guess the high list price is because of the full-color illustrations? It involves a family of quirky painters in the Emerald City, who meet up with the Scarecrow and the Patchwork Girl. Fwiirp, a Skeezique introduced in Marcus Mebes’ Skeezik and the Mys-Tree of Oz, also puts in an appearance. The Skeeziques strike me as interesting creations who have never really had a chance to shine, as pretty much all of their appearances have either been in comic-relief stories or wrap-around material for unrelated short stories.
Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson – This is the first in a series of prequels to James Barrie’s Peter Pan, and I figured I should check it out since I’ve liked Dave Barry’s writing for some time. I kind of wonder how a humor columnist came to write a prequel to a beloved children’s story. Does it have something to do with his last name’s similarity to that of Peter’s creator? I also remember a reviewer comparing Barry’s smart-alecky attitude to Peter’s. Anyway, the story struck me as a way to rationalize Never Land, at least to an extent. Peter is an orphan who finds himself allied with the Starcatchers, who seek to collect the magical stardust that sometimes falls to Earth in order to keep it out of the wrong hands. The fantastic elements of Never Land, like Peter’s flight and eternal youth and the presence of mermaids and fairies, are attributed to a large amount of this dust spilling on an island. It doesn’t totally match up with what Barrie had said about his character and imaginary country, but Peter was repeatedly identified as a teller of tale tales anyway, so I’m not sure it has to. Captain Hook is here as well, but since he doesn’t lose his hand until near the end of the book, he’s called Black Stache instead. He and Smee are very much in character, and we find out how the pirate captain came to be so obsessed with a particular boy (well, aside from the fact that Peter cut off his hand, which is a pretty obvious factor). I might well read the sequels someday, but they’re not at the top of my reading list.