Legendarium takes place in an imaginary place “between world,” a place where all the stories ever created intersect. If anything happens to the stores as-written, there are dire consequences to the world as we know it. The two main characters are Bombo Dawson, an up-and-coming author and Alistair Foley, a harsh and jealous literary critic. In fact, Alistair has given Bombo his only one-star review on Amazon.com, making the two mortal enemies. However, they have been visited by ghosts of famous authors and sent on a mission to save the Legendarium (and, by extension, the world!).
The book takes us through several novels that you’ve probably heard of (or could easily research), the most famous being the world of Alice in Wonderland (Through the Looking Glass). As the characters progress through each storyline, they realize their task is to keep the storyline as close to the original as possible. When they don’t, dire things happen. For instance, their failure in one case led to “President Martin Luther King, Jr.” no longer becoming President, but rather—being assassinated.
The book continues characters that were created in a previous novel. The prologue tells us what we need to know about what has already happened, and I didn’t feel like I missed out for not having read the first novel.
My favorite part of this book was the characterization. I laughed out loud several times at the clever interactions and characterization. The book doesn’t take itself too seriously, which gives it a great tone and voice. What really made the book for me was the clever tone. I read the book in two sittings and was surprised when I looked at my Kindle and saw I was 60% finished already (and that I had to take a break to run to the grocery store!). It’s definitely a page turner. In some ways, its clever humor reminded me of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (although that book annoyed me a bit; this one didn’t!). As an avid reader, I was familiar with most of the allusions and references (and characters) in this book, and many of the twists on famous works made me laugh. For instance, at one point, the Vorpal sword was sticking out of Moby Dick. At another point, the characters were counting things that should never be done the same way Alice counts unbelievable things she has experienced.
As a writer, I also enjoyed the funny jabs at modern-day publishing. It’s noted time and again how famous writers of the past would have trouble getting published today. Many times, Alistair is being pushed to self-publish his novel, something he is adamantly against for most of the novel. That said, because much of the humor comes from references and allusions, I’m not sure how a non-reader would react to such a book (though if they don’t generally read, why would they pick up this book anyway, right?).
In short, this was a clever read and well worth the cost. I can’t remember the last time I actually laughed (in a good way!) while reading a book. An enjoyable read over all. I’m always skeptical when I see a book with lots of five-star ratings, but for me, this book deserves every star.