Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Review of Housetrap by Linda Workman-Crider

Book Review: Housetrap by R.J. Hore

Review by: Linda Workman-Crider

The Maltese Falcon/Dragnet type detective story combines with an entire encyclopedia of fairy creatures who travel in carriages and ox carts over cobblestone streets to catch their shuttles from Earth to Mars or Saturn in this who’s chasing who, and for what real reason, head-spinning mystery.

Private Detective Randolf C. Aloysius is approached by an Elven client, giving the name of Rose and her employment as the Assistant Headmistress at a college for quality young ladies. She says her boyfriend, Rupert, has disappeared, along with the ring she gave him as a token of her love. She wants Randolf to find the man and the ring. The ring, however, is a family heirloom and she is willing to pay twice the agreed upon fees to get it back. But Randolf discovers that Rose isn’t Rose, who turns out to be a missing Elven student who has fled Earth with her boyfriend, Rupert, to the most probable destination of Mars. Randolf decides to follow the trail of Rose#2 to find Rupert and the ring, which would satisfy his client, formerly-known-as-Rose, and lead to the detective actually getting paid. However, Randolf is now being followed by a Demon and a Vampire, who may be the same creatures who got to Rupert’s room ahead of him and tossed the place. Buckle your seat belts and keep your smart-device handy. R.J. Hore’s Housetrap is a vortex of fantasmic mystery laced with plenty of word candy for the intellectual reader.

This story-line, written in first person, is not one that could be followed easily by someone new to the fantasy genre, simply due to extensive inclusion of so many varieties of fantasy creatures and fairy tales. Even with some prerequisite knowledge, there were portions that had my mind swirling like the very first time I heard Russel Brand speak; in awe and in need of a glossary but loving the challenge of trying to keep up. As far as actual plot-line, Hore plays the reader like a cat plays a mouse. We are allowed a correct prediction or two and then killed with the plot-twists. The story line is a mystery plot but also a story that never seems to take itself too seriously. While I may seem to hype up the creature knowledge and the need for a dictionary, Housetrap, from start to finish, is a fun read.

Randolf C. Aloyius is mustached Mongrel with a self-described ugly mug and an Uncle’s charm. All those ancestral bits of magical talents from so many different races combine to make him a top-notch, though financially broken, private detective. He smokes a briar pipe, loves baseball and beer, and knows how to use all seven of his senses to avoid debt collectors. As the narrator, the characters voice reminded me of Sergeant Joe Friday, from the 1960’s TV series Dragnet, plus the additional class of 1940’s actor, Humphrey Bogart with lines like, “[She] slid into the battered chair opposite me like maple syrup poured from a mason jar.” And, “The Elf had the kind of face you see perched on a mantelpiece, thin bone china, pale, delicate, and carved by a Master.” Or, my personal favorite in regard to a goblin landlord making googly eyes at him, “[She had] a face that would make a herd of woolly mammoth stampede.” Randolf’s dialogue and narration will keep you wrapped up in the story, even if just to find out what he might say next.

As you may have noticed in the summary, there are two characters going by the name of Rose. Both are Elves, both are linked to a Rupert and an antique ring, and both are equally important to the plot-line. I am afraid it would get too confusing to describe either character further here, but it is important to note that this situation becomes much less confusing within the actual story. In complete honesty, I suffer some remorse in giving the detail of the two Roses away, but felt it was important for audience understanding of the plot summary. In either case, the characters are well written, but the first-person narration regulates our major closeness to remain loyal to Randolf.

In Housetrap, Hore takes would be trope characters and adds dashes of something extra until they’re so flavored that they become unique. They are neither flat nor rounded characters, but instead have bumps and lumps of human qualities that make them stand out as distinguishable from any other trope-based characters, so not really tropes at all. There is a genius behind these characters that poke fun at the genre without distracting from the storyline at all—Well, except for a Wolf driver of a carriage nonchalantly described as wearing a faux sheep skin coat. I had to back up three words before I could laugh out loud at that one. I almost missed it.

The world-building in Housetrap requires the reader to be capable of some suspension of belief to take in all the magic, fairy creatures, planetary travel, and some juxtaposition in the levels of available technology/magical creation limitations. Most fantasy readers will have the ability to sink into the world without any difficulty, and once there, Hore’s descriptions are consistent and connected in a way that world makes its own kind of sense. As an example, in one scene, Randolf is looking into his crystal ball and switching channels trying to find something to watch. It is explained that the wizards still hadn’t found a way to create audio and visuals within the same device. Now we know why a world that can send people to Mars doesn’t have something as simple as a television. It’s believable in that it is explained, and quite frankly, the real world still hasn’t found a cure for the common cold, though we are capable of splicing genes into organisms which causes them to produce human insulin.

Housetrap in an enjoyable quick read while, at the same time, being a great mental workout. R.J. Hore’s word choices and sentence structure are on a level with great literary works of fiction. While being fast-paced, the complexity of the writing style will increase the reading time and the amount of time spent lingering in pure awe at R. J. Hore’s mental capacity to contain that much knowledge and the talent to convey it in such an enjoyable way. I highly recommend this book to experienced readers of the fantasy genre.

Housetrap is available on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.

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