Fantastica, by Victorio Velasquez is not a serious novel. If you sit down to read it and you want your mind to be blown away by a touching story, this is not the novel for you. If you are looking for something to make you laugh and to help you forget about the real world, then this may be the right fit.
Before I summarize the novel I would like to state that this story is meant to be silly. Velasquez is poking fun at fantasy novels and about the world we live in today. He goes out of his way to be outrageous and shocking. Without knowing this, you may be turned off by his writing.
Fantastica is a magical land that is under the rule of an evil emperor, Louie, who is an orange tabby cat god who has lived for over 2000 eons. His empire is plagued with political, social, and racial divisions. And Louie, sticking to his cat instincts and desires, does not care as long as he is fed his favorite foods and petted.
Shit and Dope are two friends who repeatedly get into mischief. Shit is an outcast who is not only rude, but ugly. The author writes, “his overall demonic appearance of warty reptilian scaly skin, pupil-less silver eyes that glowed in the dark, disheveled black hair, peculiar doggy ears, along with his offensively rude obnoxious behavior in the presence of the cat god’s imperial court eventually made him an outcast from the social élite that had the privilege to speak to the cat god on a regular basis.”
Shit, however, has some good friends, including Dope, who make his life interesting. Dope’s family is part of the imperial court. And his friendship with Shit is dangerous. This does not deter Dope from attending Shit’s annual week long Pigshit festival. The festival is a time for the ordinary people and beasts that live outside the city to celebrate and to relax. However, the festival is interrupted by the military and the two friends are separated.
Dope is arrested by the military and has to stand trial in front of the emperor. He’s sentenced to become a slave. Yet, keeping to the fantasy formula, he is able to elude his fate with the aid of some friends, including talking rats and birds. Breaking with the fantasy genre, the author sidetracks Dope by having him fall in love with an ugly woman. This love threatens Dope’s freedom.
Shit escapes arrest and sets off on a quest to seek the power to take down the emperor. His journey includes many trials and tribulations, but with some unexpected twists. Will he succeed and make it in time to rescue his friends from the wicked Louie?
As I said before, this is not a novel to be taken seriously. If you are expecting to have your socks blown off by riveting descriptions of a new fantasy world I would advise you to look elsewhere. The author wants to surprise the reader. He says in his description that all of the dialogue “reads like bad acting in 70s/80s era B movies, Old English dubbed Kung Fu flicks, and dubbed Japanime from the 80′s and 90′s.” For example, Joe, the talking rat, says to Dope, “Look, homeboy… I’ve only known you for less than a week, and it doesn’t take much to let me know that your jonesing for a woman after days of being cooped up with us magically talking sewer rats.” If you are in the mood for silliness than you may enjoy Fantastica. Life can’t always be serious now can it? I once heard that novels like this are like candy for the brain. A little bit of sugar to soothe an overworked person can be a perfect way to unwind and to remember to laugh. At times though, I wished the author did not include so much ridiculousness. Too many fart jokes tend to weigh on a reader. Subtlety can be more effective on occasion instead of nonstop in your face humor.
The silliness of the novel is not the biggest downfall of the story. This work, while it is entertaining, needs editing. It may have been the edition I was reading, but there were too many errors and the formatting was off. I found this distracting. Overall I give the novel 2.5 stars out of 5. Velasquez shows promise and I would like to see some of his writing after an editor has worked his or her magic. Fantastica is the first volume and I’m curious about the continuation of the series.