Avon Van Hassel

Building Worlds and Filling Them With Magic

My sister gave me this book a couple of years ago because she met the author and I, well, I fucking heart Wales.

Characters

Alice is a sensitive with a sensible new haircut and knock-off Doc Martens. Wellington Wolfe is an Enhanced Agent who only ever swears in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet. Mick is a…well, I won’t spoil that for you. Let’s just say he’s a mad scientist. And Ken is the zombie-friendly head of the Mailroom, and staunch advocate for zombie rights. They work for Odyssey International, a shadowy organisation that deals with supernatural happenings all over the world.

Plot

The story begins when a call is put in to Odyssey about a zombie outbreak in Wales that has the potential to be awkward for the annual Bog Snorkeling Championship. What follows is a madcap wobble through a disastrous plane crash, zombie virus outbreak, wander over the hills and vales of the unspoilt Welsh countryside, pub crawl, science time, and even a zombie coronation.

Tone

This book reminded me a lot of a book last year, called The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley. It involves a female protagonist with a tenuous grasp on her identity and some vague powers, who works for a government agency devoted to keeping the supernatural world–if not secret–at least quiet. Alice, however, is much more silly, much more irreverent and light-hearted.

A few of the jokes fall a little flat for me or go on a bit too long, and the pacing is a bit slow, but aside from that, it’s a very fun read.

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