Book Review: Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales

18762397Title: Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales
Author: A.C. Birdsong
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

On a small farm just outside of a tiny town lives Jacob, the last in a long line of Caretakers of Magic. His mission in life as the world’s only magician (in fact the only person who knows magic is possible) is to preserve magical skill in preparation for the day when magic is needed in the world. Other than what is required to train an apprentice, Caretakers aren’t to be practitioners, a tenet Jacob adheres to religiously.

Jacob has been teaching an apprentice, Palmer, for eight years. As a student, Palmer is a dismal failure, but this does not stop him from experimenting. Feeling that the pace of his instruction is unnecessarily slow, Palmer takes the little magic he knows, twists it, and uses it to trap Jacob and a young neighbor Lucy inside an old book of fairy tales (The Tall, Thick Book of Tales). Palmer refuses to release them unless Jacob imparts all magical knowledge to him in an instantaneous way.

From the moment of Jacob’s entrapment, Birdsong creates three interwoven storylines: Palmer’s dealings with the townspeople, who are searching for Lucy and quickly suspect Palmer for her disappearance; Jacob’s journey to escape, which takes him through scenes written into the book by Palmer, designed to harass Jacob and to speed his compliance along; and Lucy’s interaction with the book’s original characters, all magical themselves, trapped within the margins by Palmer’s spell, and are united in their desire to expel the intruders. Added to this mix are an enchanted bookworm and the fairy tales’ narrator, who have objectives of their own.

Readers will enjoy Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales. Birdsong skillfully mixes the real and the imaginary worlds with a lean and fast-paced style. A well-crafted and fun novel with colorful characters and great dialogue written for any fan of adult fiction, and suitable for young adults and older adolescents as well.

Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales started out a little slow. The characters felt kind of flat, especially Palmer. However, as the story progressed, the characters grew on me, and I started to like them more. That’s not to say they ever turn too complex, they stay pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean they’re not surprisingly entertaining.

Jacob is a Caretaker, a magician who doesn’t practice magic, but who takes care of it until the day it’s needed in the world. His apprentice, Palmer, however has other plans. Palmer isn’t all too pleased with how slowly the old man is instructing him about magic, and traps Jacob into a book of fairytales, along with Lucy, a young girl living next door. Palmer refuses to let them go until Jacob tells him all he knows about magic.

From that point on, the story picks up pace. We meet a lot of magical and intriguing characters, like the Bookworm (you can guess twice what a book worm is, and what he does). Lucy was a lovely characters, and Jacob was okay too. I would’ve preferred him to stay an old man during the entire book though. It would be reminiscent of the ancient tutor – young pupil bond you see so often in fantasy, like Lord of the Rings (Gandalf and Frodo) and Harry Potter (Dumbledore and Harry), and I think the bond has a certain charm to it. However, Jacob is magically turned back into a teen, which makes it a little more complicated.

I kind of liked Palmer. Sure, he’s the villain, and as a person, he’d absolutely despise me, but he’s an intriguing villain. He has personality and depth, and reasons for why he acts in a particular way.

Overall this was an enjoyable read reminiscent of books like The Neverending Journey and The Wizard of Oz. The characters were okay, but the plot really brought this book from a 3 to a 4 star for me. If you like fantasy, this is a good choice.


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