a review by Nalini Haynes
Ike, a 14 year old boy, seems to have fallen down the rabbit hole. Ike lost his memories of his earliest childhood but is on the path to recovery and fulfilling his quests. Mellie is an apprentice thief, whos occupation causes ongoing conflict. Pook, aged 12, lies compulsively and behaves erratically. These three are in the middle of a few quests including recovering the Book of Grimmery from the dwarf city of Delf so the princess may be crowned, thus preventing the Dark Queen from taking over the land. They meet a desperate Dwarf.
The Desperate Dwarf has an eclectic cast of characters. The villain is the wicked queen of the Fae who steals children’s nightmares. Tonsil the demon climbs up a shaft belching flame (groan). Con the dwarf lives up to his name. Monty is a headless horseman who talks through his backside. This is a fast paced, crazy ride aimed at primary to middle school students, with enough snot and fart jokes to satisfy any desire for baser humour.
It appeared that there were a couple of inconsistencies in the story. For example, Shizzt was inexplicably deaf in one scene and then could hear in the next, but that could be explained [spoiler deleted!] At a few points I wanted Irvine to slow down and explain things a bit more but I suspect his target audience prefers the fast paced action without interruption. This was also the first in the series I have read, so I came in quite late to the story.
The Desperate Dwarf had the feel of a children’s version of Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels without the reader being bludgeoned by riddles and puns. Recommended for fans of Eoin Colfer and Morris Gleitzman-style humour. This book will also entertain the reluctant reader while meeting his or her reading quota, a prime consideration for any parent. I strongly recommend beginning with book one in the series, The Headless Highwayman.
Previously published in Dark Matter issue 4, July 2011, blog post predated to reflect the original publication date.