Monday, January 09, 2006

Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Matinez

This is the author’s first novel and I certainly hope not his last. I will be placing it onto my February recommended books list as an Urban Fantasy. The writing and story are so well done the reader accepts that werewolves, vampires, ghost, zombies, ghouls, black magic, world gates and evil old gods all exist as part of our world. The writing is polished and flows along taking you with it.

I read the first few pages and admit I was not sure what to make of them, but I kept reading and was rewarded for this with an enjoyable romp. A short synopsis. Duke and Earl driving along in the desert stop at a diner, zombies attack, they stick around to find out what is what. One of them falls in love. Turns out a witch is trying to open a hellgate and let the very old and very evil gods out. Climatic scene, heroes and girl drive off for Las Vegas and next adventure, which is sure to find them because of the law of “Anomalous Phenomena Attraction”.

To quote a blurb on the back “Gory, sexy and flat-out hilarious Gil’s All Fright Diner will tickle your funny bone – before ripping it out of its socket.” Pretty accurate. For Urban Fantasy with a bite, that is a hoot, this is the book to read.

The Wizard Test by Hilari Bell

Hilari Bell is considered an author of young adult books, but she writes so well fantasy fans of any age will enjoy reading her novels. At 166 pages this novle is really a novella and reading it took a disappointingly short time. A disappointment in that I finished far to soon, wishing the book was longer so I could continue to enjoy reading Bell’s words.

The hero of the novel is 14years old and finds out he has wizard powers in a society that despises wizards. The story follows how he deals with this, what he learns about his world and the choices he makes. Some may call this a coming of age tale, but I do not believe I would. Rather I would call it an “if everyone else was jumping off a bridge, are you going to follow like a lemming and jump off too?” tale. It is about seeing/finding what really is real, not accepting what everybody else says is reality. About there being choices in how we act, making those choices and the consequences of our choices. This life lesson is woven into an interesting, well-written and enjoyable story.

I would particularly recommend this book to parents, teachers and mentors as a starting point for a discussion with young people about being part of the crowd, following everybody else or our own path, choices and consequences. I must mention that although the hero is 14 this book is suitable for much younger readers. It is so well written it is accessible to readers of all ages.