by Alex Beecroft, fantasy (2012)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60928-724-5
Bomber's Moon is the first book in the series Under The Hill. And when I say "first book", I mean it: this book ends with a cliffhanger and will be continued in the next book.
Alex Beecroft is more well known for her historical romance stories, but this is a tale set in an alternate Earth, complete with fairies. No, I'm not talking about happy homosexuals, although they are here too, I'm talking about those pointy-eared winged things. There's a rude "fairies versus faeries" joke in here, but I'm not touching that one because the wrath of the angry online armchair LGBT activists can be fearsome indeed.
So, here's Ben Chaudhry. He's a banker in a small town called Bakewell, has a thing about everything being its proper place and in order, and he has his whole life planned out. Even if the author hadn't informed me his last name, I'd have guessed that Ben is Indian because he's so... stereotypical, heh. One day, he wakes up to what seems like an earthquake. No, it's better: his house is being lifted up and given a good shake by angry Legolas-types in tin can armors. Oh dear. Ben flees back into his house, and after a while, things seem to have returned to normal.
Ben knows that the police will think him crazy, so he decides to call up the Matlock and District Paranormal Investigation and Defence Agency. The agency seems determined to conquer as many alphabets out there as possible, but fortunately their acronym is MPA. This is how Ben meets Wing Commander Chris Gatrell, who is hot and who also seems to take Ben seriously. Chris believes Ben alright, because he's actually a man out of his time. He was flying a bomber in World War 2 when elves sprinkle some magic dust on his plane and he finds himself thrown forward to the current year (1995). His boyfriend Geoff is MIA, maybe dead, and since then, Chris is reluctant to strike up new relationships with other blokes.
Meanwhile, in another place and maybe plane, we have Flynn, a guy who is trapped in the realm of the Queen of the Fae. He meets Sumala, who claims to be a princess held hostage by the Queen, and they decide to find a way to get out of there. Will they make it? And what does their story have to do with that of Ben and Chris? Oh come on, as if you can't tell.
I have my doubts about the author pulling off successfully a contemporary voice after the awkward and stilted Shining In The Sun, but she acquits herself nicely here. Then again, when two of the main characters are early 19th century types, maybe that's to be expected, heh. At any rate, this one boasts the author's usual elegant wordsmith, but with humor sprinkled in. I find the humor touch and go, to be honest. Sometimes, it works very well, demonstrated nicely by the eccentric secondary character Mr Smith. But it can also falter, as in Ben's often awkwardly timed "funny one-liners" in reaction to his fish out of water situation.
Ben and Chris form a rather typical "stoic dude with baggage and more emotional dude in a weaker position" coupling, and I find them far less interesting than Flynn and Sumala because of how familiar they are underneath their "oh, I am sad - wanna hear my issues?" external trappings. But still, they are fine. Maybe they will be more interesting by the time the sequel rolls in.
This story ends in a cliffhanger, so it's hard for me to gauge how good or bad this book is. I'll just say that the plot is interesting even if one half of the main quartet is a bit on the ho hum side. There's really nothing here that makes me sit up and go, "Wow! What a unique thing!" but then again, I read way too many fantasy books back in the old days. Still, Ms Beecroft puts plenty of familiar tropes together in a manner that works, so I'd give her some cookies for that.
All I can say is that I am intrigued to find out what happens next, but I am not as bowled over by this as I wished I had been. It's a good read, but still, there is an emotional distance between me and the story. I am not as emotionally invested as I'd have liked. But let's see what happens in the next book.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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