Amidst a period of watching the first of the Games of Thrones episodes and reading a lot of Malazan tales (The Crippled God by Erikson and Stonewielder by Esslemont, reviews coming soon!), I have found the time to read a very nice novel called Blunderland, written by Elizabeth O’Kane.
Contrary to the high/ epic fantasy I am mostly into, Blunderland is a contemporary fantasy novel describing an Alice in Wonderland kind of story.
Blunderland tells the story of the young woman Fin who enters a world called Blunder that is quite different from our own but also connected to it at the same time. Interesting as this world is, all is not right and Fin finds herself at the center of the problems. First she has to escape the Creeps who are after her but then she finds out she is the only one who can stop them from ravaging Blunder.
See below for the back cover summary.
As stated above, Elizabeth O’Kane has created a very enjoyable contemporary fantasy story by writing Blunderland. She has managed to include several interesting and fascinating fantasy concepts in the story. Being transported to a fantasy world is of course nothing new but Blunder is linked to our world and events there may influence our world on a large scale. Also other aspects, like superfast cars and using folded or knotted materials to “write and read” instead of pen and paper are nice little differences. What I would have liked to see is that these fantasy elements were more structural, providing a more consistent and deeper setting of this fantasy world.
The story that is told interchanges dark, disturbing events with light, almost childish situations in which the main character Fin explores the otherworldly aspects of Blunder and its people. Although these extremes sometimes felt too far apart, O’Kane has managed to find a balance that kept the story exciting and fascinating.
A point of criticism I do have is regarding the pace of the story. There are quite a few moments when nothing much is happening except for Fin taking yet another shower and playing with her dog. This doesn’t seem to fit well with the urgency of stopping the Creeps.
Apart from the main story of Fin having to safe Blunder, a lot of attention is given to the personal issues of Fin which have caused her to forget parts of her past and continue to influence her behavior. This gives the story the necessary depth and definitely helps build the character.
All in all, I have really enjoyed reading Blunderland. The pace and depth of the story could have been somewhat better but I hope that Elizabeth O’Kane is already working on a sequel (or prequel) that will allow for this. The land of Blunder, its history and its connection to our world definitely seem to have more than enough elements that would justify using it as the setting for other stories!
Back cover summary
Fin Barrett is a survivor who believes her life is in order once and for all. Unfortunately, she is wrong. As Fin attempts to make a fresh start with her new puppy Zipper, she has no idea that Creeps from another world are stalking her. But then, late one night in a nearby sculpture garden, Fin suddenly finds herself sprinting after Zipper through a mosaic arch. In mere seconds, she is transported to a strange place called the land of Blunder.
In Blunder, sparkly goo makes solid objects penetrable, an old woman’s Mercedes travels at unimaginable speeds, and people read handcrafted objects rather than printed words. To top it off, a few of Blunder’s citizens seem to know Fin-and not all of them are happy with her. After Fin dredges up terrifying memories of her first visit to Blunder, she remembers it is up to her to stop the Creeps who receive thrills from randomly attacking innocent people.
With the help of an irritating shaman, the ridiculous Sullivan brothers, and a host of other oddball characters, Fin is unwittingly propelled into the role of savior as she and Zipper traverse through an outlandish world where nothing will ever be normal.