Monday, February 12, 2024

Today's review... Illustrated Girl by Josephine Angelini

Today's read popped up as a potential Valentine's Day read on my radar and heads in a fairy tale direction...I think. Honestly, it was the turtle-neck sweater, which caught my attention, since I happened across this one during those sub-zero weeks. Warmth was on my mind. The blurb does leave me wondering what direction this will go, but I'm always up for a surprise. Plus, the girl on the cover is wearing fuzzy gloves. I just peeked out the window and see that sleet and snow are coming down. Yeah, we're going to stick to those warm thoughts and dive in.

The Chronicles of Lucitopia, Book One
by Josephine Angelini
Sungrazer Publishing
YA Fantasy
211 pages

From bestselling author Josephine Angelini comes a whimsical cozy read with loads of adventure and none of the triggers. Perfect for fans of Olivia Atwater and Travis Baldree.

Ever wish you could travel inside your favorite book and become the main character? Of course you have. Everyone has. But if you ever manage to pull it off, here’s a tip. Timing is everything…

Take Holly for example, who after saying a spell is transported inside a fairytale called The Chronicles of Lucitopia, a magical world infested with grifter grandmas, halitosis-riddled bandits, and devoid of any functioning toilets.

Holly becomes Princess Pleasant exactly as she wished, but she gets there too late, right after an evil sorcerer turns Lucitopia into a tetanus-ridden hellhole. And now, it’s up to Holly to make things right.

With the help of a freakishly handsome, yet frustratingly virtuous knight, Holly sets out to fix her story, but she only has fifteen days left to do so or she risks being stuck in Lucitopia for the rest of her life, which may prove to be a short one considering she’s overdue for her shots.

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With a hint of The Princess Bride (just a speck), this tale embraces virtuous goodness around a princess, who wants nothing more than to end her ridiculous fairy tale and make it back home to the modern world.

Holly was tricked and finds herself stuck in a tower in a book with one way out: get a real person to kiss her. Not another character in the book. If that wasn't hard enough (who goes around kissing books while thinking of a character...and not even the main one?), she's been thrust into the last pages of the tale, where the world has fallen apart thanks to the hero's demise. Nobody wants to read a story where the villain rules and destroys everything, and all 'real' readers stop forty pages before they even get to her unnecessary scenes. But there's not much she can do about it even if time's running out. She's had one year to accomplish the impossible and soon, will be stuck in the misery forever. Well, if she could survive that long. The world is deadly, and she's already been pushing luck to make it as long as she has. 

While this read starts out a bit jumbled, it soon glides into an increasingly grabbing tale. And I'm pretty sure it was purposefully done this way. It's written from Holly's (aka Princess Pleasant) perspective in first person. The reader meets her (literally, since she does talk directly to the reader every now and then) as the year's deadline nears the end, and she's pretty much given up. She's lost, and that's exactly how the writing comes across—stumbly, unsure, and a little confused. With an unexpected twist of hope, the flow of the story and writing switches right along with her situation. Soon, it's an increasingly grabbing tale with unexpected moments, fun characters, slightly quirky situations, and a heroine to truly root for.

This read takes on a unique direction, while holding several cliches to add humorous moments. It's playful yet dangerous, wholesome yet sneaks in a dash of subtle risque. While reading, I considered suggesting this one to upper middle grade readers but stuffed that idea away thanks to a dusting of innuendos (subtle and light but...nope.) It's a solid YA read—fun, light-hearted adventure with virtues to delight and make a maiden sigh, while snort-worthy and modern snark adds needed bite.; The mix is refreshing.

It's a short read, which still manages to pack in quite a few characters and predicaments. While most characters don't gain much depth, they carry quirky goodness to make up for it. Considering these are storybook figures, that works surprisingly well. Holly, of course, is the depth and carries the character-arc to hold the read. The lower page number also means there are several loose ends, but for the most part, this isn't an issue, since it fits to the way the author has created the world. Backstories are also missing, which again, makes sense...mostly. I do wish there'd been a bit more surrounding Holly and the book because that aspect left a gapping hole, which didn't sit right. Still, the tale and Holly grabbed, making it hard to put this book down and fun to read.

It appears book two will hit a new story with a new character or two (?), which I may or may not pick up (I hate switching characters). I believe fans of fantasy, who enjoy a pinch of modern snark and tons of subtle silliness, might enjoy taking a peek at it.

You can find out more about Josephine and her works....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very helpful review! :)