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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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06/18/2008 Archived Entry: "Book review: Pillage"

Written by Obert Skye
Published by Shadow Mountain
ISBN-10: 1590389220
ISBN-13: 9781590389225

Review by Jilly Gee

Beck Phillips wasn't exactly living a normal life before he was sent to live with his Uncle Aeron in Kingsplot; his father had left when he was a baby and he and his mother moved from location to location, his mother never able to hold a steady job because of her worsening mental health. Still, he went to school like a normal teenage boy, got into trouble like a normal teenage boy, and flirted with girls way out of his league like a normal teenage boy. It is when he is sent to his uncle's house in Kingsplot that things take a turn for the downright strange.

Despite Aeron's supposed wealth, there are but four workers in the entire manor, all of whom tell him not to go poking his nose where he shouldn't. Not that they are unkind; they kindly tell him to leave locked doors locked. Of course, saying that to a curious, young man has the same effect as just shoving him headlong into the unknown; he explores a basement that he was told does not exist by the staff and a conservatory with no entrance. How did he get into said conservatory? Why, he asked the ivy to grow for him so he could climb it.

The concept of a boy being sent to live with relatives he never knew he had and then discovering something remarkable about himself isn't a exactly a new one, but few of those boys, if any, were as witty as Beck. The comebacks he made and the observations from his point of view had me frequently smiling wide. Not that he's annoyingly snide. The boy thinks the same things everyone does; he just manages to express them in entertaining ways.

While humor is a great strength of Pillage, it is certainly not the strength. The plot may have roots in the standard fantasy fare, but much of it is refreshingly different from what is expected from a story about a young hero and his dragons. Beck is not descended from greatness, his displays of heroism are somewhat embarrassing, and dragons are most assuredly not his friends; not to sell him short, he is still a good hero in spite of all that, which just makes him all the greater.

The presentation, an except from a book within the book tucked between every chapter, greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the story. As the main plot progressed, the things readers would need to know from the meta-book were revealed, bit by bit, allowing them to see things in a light Beck did not yet see. After all, half the fun is in being able to see a main character's follies before he does.

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