Jasper is a wandering adventurer-for-hire, fighting monsters and rescuing damsels in distress — for a fee. He stays in one place just long enough to collect his reward; he never sticks around for the happily-ever-after part. He doesn’t want any emotional entanglements, and he’s got a whole list of Rules to keep him suitably detached. But when a seemingly ordinary battle against an evil magician introduces Jasper to a talking cat, he finds himself breaking Rule 18 (always travel alone) and making a friend in the process. Things get even more complicated when one of the damsels Jasper rescues demands to join him on his adventures. Julie is determined, thirsty for adventure, and desperately afraid of her (literal) witch of a mother. As Jasper, Julie, and Tom the cat continue to travel in search of wrongs to right, Jasper finds it harder and harder to follow the Rules. Will this unlikley team be able to conquer their personal monsters and find their way to their own happy ending?
This is the debut novel of a blogger I follow, Cheryl Mahoney at Tales of the Marvelous. It’s always a little nerve-wracking to read a book by someone you know — even someone you only know on the Internet — but I’m happy to say that I found this book absolutely delightful! I loved Jasper as a protagonist, with his stubborn practicality and his long list of Rules. I like that he’s brave but not foolhardy; he knows that walking away from a fight you can’t win is sometimes the best choice. Julie is also a wonderful character, strong and capable but also legitimately fearful of her mother’s evil magic. Since she’s not invincibly tough all the time, I found her more relatable than many fantasy heroines. I also loved the world of this novel, which operates on fairytale-esque principles, but with some interesting twists. For example, third sons are normally fated to succeed on quests, but sometimes the son in question doesn’t quite have what it takes to get things done. Then there are the Good Fairies, who are actually much more dangerous than Bad Fairies when crossed. Ultimately, all I can say is that I finished this novel with a huge smile on my face. I would definitely recommend it to fans of this genre!
N.B. — The book is available as an e-book for Nook and Kindle, as well as through Amazon if you want a hard copy.