What happens when a science geek and magic collide? Be careful what you wish for. Really. Because wishes are bad. Very bad. They can get you trapped in fantasy worlds full of killer bunny rabbits, evil aunts, and bothersome bacteria, for example. Or at least that's Ralph's experience. He's been asked to spend the summer with his strange British relatives at their old manor house in order to set up their Wi-Fi network. But there's much more to it than that, of course. It's just that nobody told Ralph. (Goodreads)
Review by Laura Madsen, veterinarian, mom, writer, and geek
I confess: I am a geek by any common definition of the word.
Science major in college? Check
Played D&D? Check
Been to a Star Trek convention? Check
Own a color-coordinated set of 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12- and 20-sided dice? Check
Able to quote entire scenes of Star Wars? Check
Have a home wi-fi network with five or more devices connected to it? Check
So when I saw the cover of GEEK: FANTASY NOVEL at the library, illustrated with a glasses-wearing geek in a battle helm, I picked up the book and flipped the pages. When I saw the list of possessions the protagonist packs for a trip (including 1 Petri Dish, 1 set of High Elf Figurines, 2 Laptops and 1 Novelization of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), I had to get the book.
Ralph is an American teenage geek who dreams of designing video games. His parents love him, but for his entire life they have adamantly prohibited him from making wishes, even a simple wish while blowing out a birthday candle. They explain to him that many people on his family tree have died from making wishes, for example one who “wished for money and wound up with a coin-shaped tunnel through her body after a gold piece was shot at her from a cannon.”
Ralph is invited by the eccentric British branch of his family to spend the summer installing a computer network in their castle. He has fun with his cousins, Beatrice, Cecil and Daphne, and comes to understand that his parents’ prohibition on wishes is because of his Aunt Chessie, the Duchess of Cheshire, and her magic wish-granting ability.
Soon he is launched into the fantasy land of Cecil’s wish, a creepy place reminiscent of Niel Gaiman’s Faerie in STARDUST, where Chessie and her minions try to kill him in various flamboyant ways. Ralph is infected by Shambling Mound Distemper, attacked by fairies, afflicted by pyrotechnically hyperallergenic cold-fused nuclear ragweed, and nearly stabbed by a unicorn-horn stiletto—all in his first two hours. Things deteriorate after that.
Market: Young adult (fantasy)
Violence: moderate, but in a funny way
Adult themes: murder, betrayal, fairy slavery