3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Almost a catastrophe,
This review is from: The Ratastrophe Catastrophe: Illmoor Chronicles: Ratastrophe Catastrophe (Paperback)
David Lee Stone's first Illmoor Chronicle is not quite a catastrophe, but it's not good either. The first of this fantasy series, "The Ratastrophe Catastrophe," is one of those books that has to strain to be halfway funny and a quarter entertaining, but doesn't quite manage it.
Evil magic possesses a very ordinary young man named Diek, making his eye glow and giving him the power to charm animals and people with music. At about the same time, the ancient, run-down city of Dullitch is suddenly overriden with thousands of giant rats. Diek offers to charm them away, for a price. He does so... only to be informed that there isn't enough to pay him.
So he charms all the city's children away. So the dim Duke hires some not-so-competant mercenaries, including belligerent dwarf Gordo, crocheted-hat-wearing giant Groan, and has-been wizard Tambor. But can they find the missing children and defeat the evil magic in time, or will the parents of Dullitch revolt?
Something magical is missing from "Ratastrophe Catastrophe," and it's not just because of the constant comparisons to Terry Pratchett. A few too many things -- Dullitch, the Duke, the guilds, even the magical possession story -- are similar to Pratchett's Discworld, but that wouldn't be a problem if Stone had crafted a funny, witty fantasy.
Unfortunately, he tried and failed. With an old plot like the Pied Piper, a story needs exceptional wit to stand out. Unfortunately Stone seems focused more on contrived jokes that really aren't that funny, like hair loss or the Tower of Screaming Doom. They're a little funny, but not so funny that you might actually laugh at them. If he just let the humour flow, it would have worked better.
And even more unfortunately, all the time that Stone spends on his jokes takes away from the characters. They're all paper-thin one-joke characters -- inept wizard, big doof, grumpy dwarf, corrupt politicians. And the most interesting characters vanish pretty quickly, such as the weirdo who is mad because he LIKED having a rat infestation.
Humorous fairy-tale retellings are a common thing, but David Lee Stone adds little to the genre in "The Ratastrophe Catastrophe." Here's hoping the second book of the series has some substance.