It’s the 1980s. His name is Arthur Merlin, and he’s on a quest for Excalibur.
When an accident goes very, very awry, one young man walks away better than ever before. He can control things with his mind, teleport, and more. When the US government wants this young man found, he makes his way to London to find out more, with the assistance of a secret branch of the MIs. But what exactly is Excalibur, and how dangerous is it in the wrong hands? Find out in The Secret of Excalibur by Sahara Foley.
The legend of King Arthur has been given a modern twist as the folk-tale is transmuted into an urban fantasy setting, giving the story a whole new edge. The tiring possibilities the concept raises are clearly noted by the author, who attempts to assuage those doubts early on with an infectious kind of absurdist humor. The idea is silly, and the Foley isn’t here to tell you otherwise – she’s here to ride that wave and steer the story in a way that it can embrace that while becoming something more.
The characters are mismatched, yet have a great chemistry and a lot of unexpected depth. The plot is metered and springs unexpected turns that just really work, even the really, really unexpected ones. The book is odd, and it just works, really going above expectations from what a quick blurb can give you.
The characters are a bit tell-don’t-show, as they constantly narrate their situations with an unrelenting sense of humor that can find itself ill-placed. In return, the story tries to take serious turns that are frequently unravelled by the comedic bent the author has established throughout. If the book had fully committed to farce or to a straight-faced drama this would not have been an issue, instead of walking a very fine line without enough discipline to stay on-point.
It’s also unclear whether this is meant to be aimed at a young adult audience or above with its very scattershot references and this unsteady balance of seriousness. The attempt is admirable, and if only the gambit had paid off we would have something to really blow your socks off; alas, The Secret of Excalibur draws just a little short on these points.
The book is genuinely enjoyable when willing to simply enjoy the ride. It certainly has its share of critical failings, yet the bottom line is that it’s cracking good fun. It’s a silly story that draws on all sorts of different sources to make a lightly absurd urban fantasy that really tickles your funny bone without becoming too exhausting or overplaying the comedy. It’s clear that the author had a lot of fun writing the book, which easily transfers from the page to any receptive reader. It’s hard to fault anything that really is so fun to get into, groan-inducing as it can be here and there. It’s King Arthur meets James Bond and Foley hits the right notes in the mix.
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