Twitter-style summary: Edwin and Perpetua are summoned to Hysteria to find themselves neck-deep in dangerous conspiracies, dark magic and, erm, orienteering...
This is J. D. Irwin’s second novel, the first being Edwin Spencer Mission Improbable. Like the first novel featuring hapless loser Edwin, this book marries real-world humour and parallel-worldly adventure with aplomb. J. D. who also answers to Julie, is a regular on the schools and events circuit, engaging kids and adults alike with her understanding of how to deliver a believable parallel universe that we all wish existed.
The story, whilst anchored by real-world protagonists, Edwin and Perpetua, is based in Hysteria, a parallel world to ours in which magic and science work hand in hand, where rival kingdoms use White (good) and Shadow (evil) magic to wrestle power from each other. The strength of Julie’s writing lies in the humour derived from the clash between our world and Hysteria. She has a composed command of dialogue which she uses to great effect throughout the story, and her action scenes will leave you breathless.
The combination of humour and fantasy in these novels is spot-on for the target audience. Every reader can appreciate the confusion Edwin feels at being called upon to act the part of Prince Auvlin, his former Hysterian doppelganger: whilst in one breath he wants to help the cause that the first book wedded him too, he is yet again called upon to lay his life on the line for a country that most of his friends, family and teachers don't even know exists.
Delightfully escapist, deliciously funny – and not without its darker moments in the midst of dangerous magicks – this is a book that knows its audience like the back its hand.