Ralph is your typical computer geek. Better with code than with people, he’s had everything riding on getting a job at his favorite game company. Once rejected and at his lowest ebb he gets an unexpected invite to a for real life English castle from relatives he never heard of. Soon he finds out that there is a dangerous and magical family secret that makes any wish uttered aloud come true (but with the usual TERRIBLE consequences usually reserved for a monkey’s paw). This puts poor Ralph in the middle of a strange and terrifying fantasy world unfortunately stuck as the hero. Ralph will need all of his prodigious geek knowledge of monsters, mazes, dungeons, and dragons to be the hero he always dreamed of becoming.
This is a funny little book. Not just because it IS funny, also because it’s odd. In a good way. The fantasy world is twisted and will make really appeal to fans of fantasy, because it is a hilarious send up of classic fantasy elements. Probably my favorite aspect of the book is how the narrator begins to interfere with the action and Ralph starts realizing he is a character in a story. I am a huge fan of metafiction and think that it really fits in a book taking apart fantasy stories. It ends up being a story about the power of stories and the way they change us and our world. It is very successful on that level, but occasionally other things suffer. While I like the characters and several are very amusing, none are particularly deep (then that is common in a lot of classic fantasy too). This is one you’ll want to stick with as it just gets better and better and careens full force into a strange mind bender of an ending.