Peril in the Old Country by Sam Hooker

  • Author: Sam Hooker
  • Publisher: Black Spot Books
  • Publication Date: June 2018

Peril in the Old Country by Sam Hooker is a book with words. Yes, yes, that might sound redundant, but not every book has words you know. Perhaps you’ve heard of picture books? Got you there! ahem Anyway, this worded book has many passages. Some of them lead through long and winding hallways. Other passages are rather short, but you just can’t help but take your time as you walk through them.

In this book, we follow Sloot Peril, who lives in the Old Country. It has a name, but it’s illegal to say it. Don’t want to offend the Domnitor–long may he reign. Sloot is a worrier and has lived that way his all life. His money-making profession, though, is an accountant. When he corrects a report originally done by a -phrase that means to stand atop a table- (don’t want to summon any goblins with our swearing), he finds himself as the financier to Lord Wilhelm “Willie” Hapsgalt, a definitely six-year-old boy who must move to his own estate due to him finally getting engaged.

“Six?! He’s at least forty-two! He’s tall and has a mustache!”

No, no. Little Willikins is definitely six. He just had an early growth spurt. Moving on.

The Old Country is the best country. There’s Nordheim to the north, but they have to deal with all of their gods all the time. As long as you follow every single rule in the Old Country, you’re golden. Well, Peril would rather have less luster. Easier to blend in that way. Except he’ll soon find out that becoming the young Lord’s financier might not have been the greatest thing. Mrs. Knife made him do it, and have you seen the daggers she can glare? We rarely see her, but she sends shivers in July.

Ever the man for rules, Sloot soon finds himself being made to break a few. Including–brace yourselves–spitting on the sidewalk. The horror! The disgrace! A gran should kick him, she should! (Older women are the best kickers, as they’ve had lots of practice.) Oh and also he might have to go to Carpathia where blood-crazy cannibals live and meet Vlad the Invader. But hey, at least he’ll have the philosopher-possessed Myrtle to think about. And his new buddy Roman. The characters are wonderful, really. For example, Myrtle’s banter with Arthur (the philosopher) shows just how cunning and full of wit she is.

As we discussed earlier, this book takes us through many passages. Many humors (the comedic ones, not the bodily ones; we’re not Carpathian savages after all! Let the records show that the use of savages does not imply that the Ancient Greeks were savages or that Carpathia is inspired by Ancient Greek) make an appearance. This is a fast read. It has wit. It has charm. The world is built up very well, although I will say that a few of the passages felt a bit like info-dumps, which halted with the pacing a bit. Don’t let the Domnitor, long may he reign, know I said that, though.

In short, this is a book for anyone who wants a bit of adventure, some laughs, and a character with a little Senlin (from The Books of Babel) quality to him.

[I received a digital ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and need to now go recite all 14 verses of the Loyalist Oath before I forget.]

 

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