Peril in the Old Country
Black Spot Books
General Adult, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Set publication date 05 June 2018
Key Take Away: "I had no idea I needed an odd fantasy, seemingly written by Robert Heinlein himself, in my life until I was reading Peril in the Old Country"
As the name suggests there is peril in the old country. The 'Old Country' being a comedic totalitarian state, and 'Peril' being our quote unquote hero, who goes by the name Sloot Peril.
If you’re following me Peril is about to be surrounded in peril.
Immediately, we become aware that Sloot is a meek, cowardly young man, possibly afflicted with obsessive compulsive disorder with pinches of Asperger’s every so often. To his benefit he leverages such strengths to become a rather successful accountant, in the capital of Old Country Salzstadt. With Success comes an odd promotion, and with this promotion comes Sloot’s mother's retirement. Her retirement creates a vacancy that Sloot is obliged to take.
As a spy.
Against the country he was born and is incredibly loyal towards.
Turns out Sloot Peril is a Carpathian by blood, enemy to the state, currently in a cold war with the country he loves.
Top this off with the fact that his "promotion" is to care for and manage the son of the richest man in Salztadt, the “Money Man” if you will.
The son’s first attempt to live on his own will be supervised by Sloot—problem being—his charge is 40 years old and has the understanding of life comparable to a six-year-old.
A rich, spoiled six-year-old.
Add a backdrop of comedic bureaucracy, an eccentric spymaster (one I would very much like to see a story focused on), a maid possessed by a lazy philosopher, and goblins that poof into existence if someone happens to curse out loud, and you have a general idea of the story.
I enjoyed reading this, it was fun more than anything else.
I had no idea I needed an odd fantasy, seemingly written by Robert Heinlein himself, in my life until I was reading Peril in the Old Country. Hooker takes an absurd situation and pours more absurdity on top of it. I will admit I was smiling most of my time while reading this.
Though, it stalls at times.
The trick with silly comedy is that it brings you closer to the characters—a person gets unknowingly attached to them through comedy, so when sh** hits the fan, it triggers.
When the story rises and teases to eject from the silliness it just cant seem to get the velocity. The result being, we get a main character who probably can not be accurately described as the protagonist.
The main hero, I believe, is the Spymaster he works for (story isn’t about him though, as much as I wish it were).
We see poor Sloot grow from a meek, cowardly accountant trying to please both sides, into a slightly less meek, cowardly adventurer/accountant just trying to get out of a bad situation.
So, at the climax, when I begin to see a few ways that Sloot may explode from his shell, make a fist, or raise his voice even, I tell you I’m excited, I look down on my e-reader and see I am on the second last page!?
Turns out I'm reading novel where the side character is the main character, and this realization (and the climax that came with it) left me feeling....hmmm, how to put this? Like my girlfriend on the nights I've worked to late, or had to much to drink.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a great read.
If a book has a sincere laugh out loud moment, it will be remembered. This book has many.
All it would have taken to make it gold, to make me believe there was a reincarnation of Robert Heinlein (who gave up sci-fi for fantasy) out there in California, would have been to give it a proper ending where I could think to myself “good for you Sloot,” instead of, “Sloot you’re such a loser.”
I’d read it again though, after all my girlfriend is still my girlfriend after many dissatisfied endings.