The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers by Hugh Cook
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A massive energy drain disrupts the magic of Injiltaprajra and it's up to Chegory Guy to divine what happened. Too bad he's just a rock gardener at Injiltaprajra's insane asylum. But does the disruption have anything to do with the the Wishstone?
The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers is a slight departure from the first five books in the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness. Rather than concerning the fall of Argan from different angles like the first five, this one is the story of Chegory Guy and a demon forcing itself into the world. Rather than being a straightforward tale, this one is purported to be told through a manuscript written by one of the asylum's inmates. It took me a little while to warm up to the style but I was hooked by one of the hilarious interjections by one of the supposed editors of the manuscript. Jeff Vandermeer employed a similar technique in Shriek but I enjoyed it a lot more here.
While my summary above makes The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers sound like a fantasy version of Die Hard, it isn't. Interesting narration aside, it's more the story of a protagonist that isn't a hero. Chegory is an Ebrell Islander, a red-skinned persecuted minority. One of his friends is The Shabble, a miniature sun. Chegory blunders his way through the story, interacting with such personages as a corpse seller, Guest Gulkan and his Wishstone-stealing crew, and, of course, The Hermit Crab, a godlike being resembling a giant crab that Chegory is charged with feeding a bucket of fish guts once a day. Gulkan makes cameo appearances in all the Chronicles leading up until the final book where, I presume, he finally takes center stage.
As always with Hugh Cook, there is a fair amount of hilarity. Without giving too much away, every one of the cultural taboos Chegory was raised with are challenged in amusing ways. That's about all I can say without giving away too much of the plot.
If you're looking for a hero, look someplace else. If you're looking for an ordinary person going up against extraordinary things, The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers, as well as the other books in the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness, are for you.
View all my reviews