Ah, but the academy stresses there are no small roles. Plopped into the middle of things is a grand hero, Irving Wishbutton. As he adjusts to life on a literary campus, he has to also deal with the twists and turns of his character and story development. It isn’t always pretty. For one, he arrives a smudge, his only distinct feature, a gaudy red button on his chest. Everything else about him is hazy and not defined yet due to his writer who has avoided describing him early on. Two, he immediately gets on Dean Harmstrike’s bad side when a pack of emberhounds from Irving’s own story attack him at the Office of Fine Aunts. Three, there are a plethora of mysteries and entanglements afloat at the academy. Irving’s creator has marked him as acutely curious. While the faculty tells him to dig into what makes himself tick, he can’t help but unravel the mysteries and secrets that abound on campus.
On his quest of self-discovery, he is befriended by another fellow smudge, a beautiful fairy from another book’s supporting cast. He also gets mixed up with a confused vampire whose fickle writer is constantly making revisions, including writing her twin brother out of her story. Lord Raggleswamp, a short-statured short-tempered braggart of a villain and Gared, The Golden Knight, whose silver tongue can command any and all monsters, are both constant thorns at Irving’s side as he seeks answers and to fit in. With the help of an equally headstrong cast, Irving tackles the big questions:
Who built the academy?
What’s Dean Harmstrike’s true agenda?
Why is being branded a smudge so very wrong to others on campus?
What lurks beneath the library?
What happens to each character upon graduation?
This is a fun book, with a mix of fantasy and mystery that will capture most readers.
The book is a bit difficult to describe because it is sort of a story within a story. One storyline is Irving’s and the other is his author. Irving’s part of the story takes place in the Academy, where he learns about himself. But as much as I enjoyed that one, I preferred Irving’s author’s story line. I loved to see the way he wrote, shifting Irving’s character and plot. It is very cleverly written.
The writing itself is wonderful. It has a nice quirkiness to it that makes it a fun to read. I did find the beginning a tad bit confusing, because we don’t really know what’s happening or who the characters are, but it slowly starts changing. As Irving learns more about himself, so do we, which is fun. You might find yourself confused at the beginning, but know that everything will be cleared up.
I do recommend this book. It is very amusing, with lovely writing, which will keep you entertained for many hours.