Review of The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney
Overview from www.bn.com: The Wanderers is set in a world inspired by fairy tales--but with a bit of a twist! You might recognize the landscape, and you may think you know the rules, but you’ve strayed beyond the tales. Come join a wandering adventurer, a talking cat and a witch’s daughter as they fight monsters, pursue quests, and learn that sometimes, rules are no help at all.
Cheryl Mahoney, a writer whose blog I sometimes read, sent me an email a few weeks back asking me if I would like a copy of her book The Wanders, presumably for review. Her blog “Tales of the Marvelous” features many fanciful stories that I often enjoy. And it is a free book! So of course I said, send it on over.
I imagined that I would like it since I liked her blog but I wasn’t prepared for how much I would like it. I like Fantasy fiction, I do. It is not however, my favorite genre. That would be Historical Fiction but Fantasy is a close second or third.
That being said, I really liked this Fantasy book a lot. In fact, I think I loved it. It was not only good but it put a humorous twist on the genre. Sort of like Shrek but without the ogre. Wait, actually, there is an ogre but he is not a main character let alone the good guy.
So just who is our main character? Well, actually I would venture to say that there really are three. But the first one we meet is Jasper who is the wandering hero type (though he prefers the term “wandering adventurer”).
He travels throughout the land saving people who need to be rescued, usually the damsel in distress type. One day, however, as he attempts to defeat a corrupt magician who is abusing his power—and don’t they all—he befriends Tom who is your typical tabby cat. He is typical except for the fact that he is under an enchantment and is thus able to talk.
After they defeat the magician Jasper invites Tom to join him in his wandering life of adventure and Tom accepts. Although Jasper realizes that he is breaking one of his rules, this one is about travelling alone; he decides it doesn’t count since Tom is a cat.
Enter Julie, our third main character. Julie is the next damsel in distress type that Jasper will try to save; this time his goal is to free her from the witch who is holding her captive. But there is something not quite right about her and the whole situation.
Jasper sneaks out the window after discovering that his reward for rescuing her is her hand in marriage. Jasper doesn’t want to get married.
But Julie also doesn’t want to get married and so she finds Jasper and begs him to let her join their party. Reluctantly he agrees to temporarily allow her to travel with him and Tom. Along the way, all three of our main characters will find their true selves and what it is they really want out of life while having some wild adventures.
What I liked about this most of all was that it was funny. I loved the way it takes accepted Fantasy norms and pokes fun at them. This is where it reminded me of Shrek the most.
I also appreciated that the story did not have a lot of crass content or an excess of violence yet all of the regular Fantasy norms were there. The adventures the characters go on are stories in and of themselves yet they really serve to bind our three main characters together. And it was just a lot of fun to read. Unless you hate the Fantasy genre altogether, I think you will like this one.