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Monday, July 9, 2012

Zelda Pryce: The Razor's Edge by Joss Llewelyn (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Order the Book HERE
Read an excerpt HERE
Read FBC review of Omar The Immortal 
Read FBC’s Interview with Joseph Robert Lewis 

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Joss Llewelyn is a pseudonym used by Joseph Robert Lewis for his Young Adult work. Being curious about world mythology since a tender age, he decided to write stories in which history, mythology, and fantasy would collide in unpredictable ways. He also likes writing about heroines that his daughters can respect and admire and took on this particular pseudonym as his daughters kept demanding more stories. Joe was born in Annapolis and went to the University of Maryland to study ancient novels, morality plays, and Viking poetry. He graduated with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Maryland with his family, a needy cat, and a zombie fish.

OFFICIAL BLURB: Zelda Pryce builds beautiful machines that defy explanation and allow her to break into any building with ease. After burgling the Smithsonian, Zelda is hired to test the security of a prestigious museum overseas using her arcane instruments. And that’s where everything goes very, very wrong. 

The museum never hired her. Someone else did. And when Zelda escapes from the authorities the only thing on her mind is tracking down the person who set her up and nearly destroyed her career. So she teams up with a charming English riskbender and a daring French alchemist to chase her quarry from Paris to Rome, from Castle Frankenstein to the Taj Mahal. Together they must escape all manners of strange traps and supernatural creatures, and only their arcane skills and tools will keep them alive. 

Between saving the world, working with a flirtatious partner, and helping her little sister with her love life, Zelda has her hands full. But if she can’t catch the real thief in time, every arcane device in the entire world is in danger, and thousands of innocent lives could be lost. 

FORMAT/INFO: Zelda Pryce: The Razor's Edge is 207 pages long divided over twenty six numbered chapters. Narration is in the third-person via Zelda Pryce solely. Zelda Pryce: The Razor's Edge is self-contained and ends on a clear note however is the first volume in the Zelda Pryce series with the second volume tentatively titled Zelda Pryce: The Clockwork Girl. There is also a note about Real Arcana present in the world as well as an “about the author” section. 

May 16, 2012 marked the overall Paperback and e-book publication of Zelda Pryce: The Razor's Edge. Cover photo provided by Kornilovdream (Dreamstime) and the design was by the author himself. 

ANALYSIS: After being introduced to Joseph R. Lewis’s writing in the form of the Other Earth books, I was very curious to see what else he has written. On checking his website I saw a brand new book being released called Zelda Pryce: The Razor’s Edge, two things nudged my curiosity, the reference to the classic Princess Zelda video games and the fact that this was going to steampunk-ish YA caper (of sorts) novel. I was partly right in my assumptions about those two nudges and here’s why. 

The story opens up in current day wherein Zelda Pryce, our protagonist is currently testing the security of Smithsonian Museum of Arcane Science. She does manage to evade the security and procure the items as required but not without some high kinks on the way. Plus with regular phone calls from her sister Roxanne about her interests in arcane science, studies and life over all, she leads a life that can be deemed reasonable as befitting her persona. Soon after gig with the Smithsonian, she gets contacted for a new gig overseas in London. During the actual gig she realizes something is horribly off, combined with the presence of other people in the same place, she discovers that she has been mentally conned into following someone’s nefarious plan. Soon she learns from Yasmin Demir, a French DCRI agent that all is not well in the world of Arcane museums the world over. Soon Zelda will have to make a choice whether to go back to her normal life or to find out who is behind all of this. 

If this book can be encapsulated in a single word, it would be FUN. Beginning from the first chapter, there’s a jovial undertone to this book that asserts itself in the dialogue as well as the inventions that abound the pages from cover to cover. The characterization ranging from Zelda, Clive & Yasmin are done competently as befitting a YA novel however we only get the story from Zelda’s point of view. The author though does his best to provide a decent background to the supporting cast however this move is hampered through the use of a singular third person POV. Going on to the second favorite part of the book, which was the presence of all these cool phenomena, gadgets and alternate arcane history, the author has created a world wherein magic is present but it is more akin to a science and is distilled by various famous historical personae, into its current highly evolved state. 

Ranging from Chekov guns to Diogenes lamps to Occam razors to Nicomachean whistles to other cool but equally dangerous artifacts. The author has planned this world akin to the Harry Potter one but with a crucial difference, this is the age of science. Thereby having a cool machine-punk edge to history, the story gains a different edge more akin to the Scott Westerfeld Leviathan series but with a comical tone akin to that of the John Connolly Samuel Johnson series. Lastly there's no Link in this story and this Zelda does everything herself to save the world. The story does have a complete plot with room left for a sequel and readers who enjoyed this book will be glad to hear that Zelda will be back in the sequel tentatively titled “Zelda Pryce: The Clockwork Girl”.   

What can readers look forward to in book, hilarious banter involving Zelda and her younger sibling Roxanne, action packed sequences in various international locales and overall a strong fun filled story to boot. With such plus features, it really becomes hard to point out any insufficiencies in this book but I think there might be some points to note. Primarily this book is equivalent to literary candy (as the author meant it to be); readers looking for a grimmer world setting akin to the current YA dystopian mold will not find it here. Also the author intentionally has made the series the way it is thereby choosing to disregard certain facts and history to make the story plot more accessible and if you can’t let go of your sensibilities completely then this isn’t the book for you. 

CONCLUSION: Joseph Robert Lewis is a maverick writer and it shows in this YA outing, filled with colorful characters, fascinating gadgets and an action packed storyline. I strongly recommend this book simply because of its theme to be a funny book. If you haven’t read Joss Llewelyn yet then grab a copy at the earliest instant and you can thank me later ;)


J.Curtis Mace said...

"Zelda" was the first thing to catch my eye too. I'm not big on gadgets or technology in my fantasy, but I'm curious to see some of the traps she encounters/escapes and how an invention aides in burglary. And I always love a flirtatious sidekick (especially if/when the girl being flirted after is named Zelda). Definitely cirous, thx. Hope it lives up to it's namesake.

The Reader said...

Hi Curtis

It definitely does have is moments and overall its a fun YA book if ou are in the mood for a lighter read.


Courtney Vail said...

Great review. I will have to check it out.

The Reader said...

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did Courtney.


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