Fairy tales merge with the modern era in Selah Janel’s fantasy adventure Olde School.
“Caught in a tug of war between past and future, that’s what I am.”
Paddlelump “Padd” Stonemonger is a business man first and a troll second. He runs a successful troll bridge that leads to a beautiful clearing and a mysterious forest beyond. But don’t worry, if you don’t have the coin you can always pay for passage with your card instead. These are modern times and while the inhabitants of Kingdom City live in castles and cottages, they can also be found at the local diner or plopped in front of the television. One thing hasn’t changed: they still want their happy endings and some will stop at nothing to obtain them. When the Olde World threatens Kingdom City, Padd will have to embrace the olde ways or risk losing everything he holds dear to darkness.
Olde School is a fairy tale for adults with all the fun of Jim Henson features like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. Fans of these films will love Janel’s colorful characters: a crotchety troll, an unusual bird, a feisty waitress and bookish, humble Padd. I loved their quick-witted, sometimes bawdy humor. I particularly, enjoyed the character’s banter and their quotable slang. I won’t be surprised if I exclaim, “Bluebeard’s balls!” the next time I stub my toe.
Olde School is as dark as it is funny. There are passages in this novel that would make even the most seasoned horror enthusiasts squirm. There is also action, drama, fantasy and subtle romance. Janel pushes the boundaries of the fantasy novel by introducing it to the modern era. This creates a unique culture and setting for the characters and gives the author an uncharted playground to create conflicts unlike any readers have read before.
Janel brings this story to life with an incredible amount of detail and description. The author’s imagery materializes off the page, vibrant and visual. However, there are moments were the description is difficult to get through, particularly during the second act where the narrative is dense with exposition. While the history of Kingdom City is interesting, the back story is at times confusing and requires patience from the reader. Much of this is likely because this book if the first in the Kingdom City Chronicles and the story is laying the foundation for not only this adventure but the series to come. The ending in particular reads more like the first act in a sequel than a conclusion.
Fantasy and fairy tale readers will likely be so enraptured by the plot that they will be undeterred and while, there is much to take in, the details are compelling and serve to move the narrative forward.
Olde School is a treat for fantasy fans looking for a unique story that crosses multiple genres. An imaginative read!
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination and a love of story since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Learning to read and being encouraged by those around her only made things worse. Her work ranges from e-books to traditional print, and she prefers to write every genre at once rather than choose just one. The stories “Holly and Ivy”, “The Other Man”, and “Mooner” are available online through Mocha Memoirs Press. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery, The Grotesquerie, and the short story collection Lost in the Shadows, co-written with S.H. Roddey. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to have adventures and hold their own.
Review Clause: Tomorrow Comes Media provided me with a review copy of Olde School through WatchPlayRead in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was provided. This review was originally published on WatchPlayRead’s website for a book tour and is available here.