Just had a great time reading My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond! Thank you Laura, for sending me a pdf of this novella!
I came back exhausted out of my mind today, all noodled arms and feet. My mouth and jaw feel like they’ve been on a claptrap marathon – do my students actually listen to me? They scribble furiously into their lab manuals and nod and I feel so reassured…but when I actually ask them if they understand what I’m saying and if they can explain it back to me they’re all “Ums and Ahs.. and Actually…”. It makes me feel like slapping my forehead. D’ope. And only because I shouldn’t link note-taking with actual learning – they don’t necessarily go hand in hand! I feel for you my dear students. It was only a few years ago I was in the same situation – it sometimes feels more like you’re juggling knowledge like it’s a hot potato with hardly a chance to take a bite out of it.
Befuddled students aside, got started on this entertaining little autobiography of the trials and tribulations of Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle – Arkus the Fearsome and the Dreaded Lord. He is proud to be a villain and argues for the need of villains in order to keep heroes in business (also, when you think about it, heroes would just be plum bored out of their minds without something heroic to do). This short novella is an episode out of what is sure to be more stories to come – Lord Arkus has got quite a flare for storytelling.
The story is compact but the plot is twisty and made me feel as if I were King Faradin, King of all the spirits – trying not to derive too much fun from foiling all of the Dreaded Lord’s villainous plans. Whilst reading, I found myself occasionally wanting to clap my hands and hoot out loud in glee at the poor lord’s misfortunes in villainy. He’s just so reasonably evil one can’t disagree with his logic sometimes but alas, he is fated to be labelled a dreaded Hero, instead. In his attempt to catch an evil spirit to exact revenge for him, he finds himself saddled with an orange headed good-humoured spirit who is annoyingly helpful and upstanding. The Sparkling’s innocently mischievous meddling lands him with much too many opportunities to do good and pushes him right out of his comfort zone – receiving free castles? Free food? Free servants? All without having to exert any tyranny? It’s absurd and illogical but he’s too well-mannered to throw a tantrum about it. Despite all his grand claims of villainy, I couldn’t imagine him lifting a finger even against the annoying Madame Clementina. I would definitely disappoint Lord Arkus by refusing to hail him as the evil overlord he wishes to be. He’s more like a down and out villain – too smart and reasonable to be one of those death-raising soul-selling types. In any case, he hardly does any bad deed, not that he ever really gets the chance to, anyway.
By the end of the story, there are still some unresolved mysteries – I want to know more about Lord Arkus and this mysterious Jarvi of his past. Hints here and there only tantalize but it isn’t very clearly revealed. There is an intriguing world created as a backdrop for this story, though – how do white towers keep the monster at bay? I still don’t know. And what about this spirit dimension? How does this whole thing work? (I’m a sucker for well-created worlds… I always want to know more!!) Found the ending to come all too soon!
Anyway, I do recommend reading this novel if you’ve got the chance. It’s great fun, reads at lightning speed and keeps you gleefully surprised.
Rating: 4 re-animated skeleton guards standing nonchalantly by the door