Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The Unwise Woman of Fuggis Mire

by Raven Dane


The Unwise Woman of Fuggis Mire is a high fantasy parody which plays on popular tropes and clichés in modern genre literature. It's an adventure involving demons, mysterious elves, questing princes, boggarts, and all kinds of other magical creatures. The action centres around Morven, a young Unwise Woman known for her bad advice and her ineffective potions and salves. In spite of her incompetence she's the one everyone goes to when they need help on a quest or a bit of healing. War is brewing between the forces of light and dark, and Morven finds herself at the forefront of the struggle to keep the peace.

This is an anachronistic story, mixing up Mars Bars and chavs with castles, ridiculous pointy shoes, and highwaymen. The setting is something like a medieval enchanted kingdom meets a modern English council estate. It's quite funny. The style of humour is similar to James Bibby's Ronan series, except updated for 2010. Raven Dane messes around with our expectations for comic effect, although there's no sense of any scorn for the fantasy genre in anything she writes.

However the main problem is apparent on the first page of the prologue:

"Rafial had an escape plan, during his off duty breaks, he created The Book"

Again on the cover blurb we find this howler:

"Danger lurks on the horizon, Demonica, bored teenage daughter of the Land of Darkness and Despair, plots to wreak havoc and mayhem on the world."

Unfortunately these aren't isolated examples. The punctuation is atrocious throughout this novel, and on almost every page there is a similar case of a failure to understand the difference between a full stop and a comma. As a result the story is much harder to read.

This is a shame, since it's quite a lively tale, with great pacing and a lot going on. The book abounds with quirky characters, such as the handsome but philandering highwayman, a morose troubadour who won't wear motley, and old apprentice baker reluctant to go out and discover his destiny, and a cursed unicorn. These odd characters are a twist on the usual stereotypes. Yet even though they're unique and unusual it doesn't automatically follow that they're exciting as well. They are often sketched very briefly, and I didn't find enough to identify with in any of them to end up caring what happened to them.

The book's main appeal is its humour, and this lighthearted romp through demonic castles, elven woods and bogs crowded with noble questers is thick with jokes. However the characters aren't particularly special, and it's not a deep and meaningful story. But the worst flaw of all is the torrent of poor punctuation which turns reading The Unwise Woman of Fuggis Mire from a bit of cheeky fun into a chore.

11th October 2010

Book Details

Year: 2010

Categories: Books

  Female Protagonist  

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2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson

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