Peril in the Old Coun­try

Sam Hooker

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - CLAIRE FOSTER

Black Spot Books (JUNE) Soft­cover $13.99 (302pp) 978-0-9997423-0-3

Sloot Peril, a mod­est ac­coun­tant who is “only as su­per­sti­tious as re­quired by law,” is an un­likely hero in the hu­mor­ous fan­tasy Peril in the Old Coun­try. With a lyri­cal flair that evokes P. G. Wode­house, Peril is funny and fun.

Sloot re­ceives an un­ex­pected pro­mo­tion to per­sonal fi­nancier: a fancy name for a mis­er­able job. He’ll be squir­ing his em­ployer’s spoiled son around the aban­doned White­wood es­tate. If that isn’t bad enough, his mis­sion is rapidly com­pli­cated by Carpathian spies, gob­lins, and broom-wield­ing man­ner­ists. Sloot’s strug­gle to adapt to his ridicu­lous cir­cum­stances is hi­lar­i­ous.

Peril in the Old Coun­try‘s real strength is in its di­a­logue and world build­ing. Sam Hooker has cre­ated a fully-fleshed-out, Love­craftian coun­try for Sloot to mope through. By turns gothic, grim, and gritty, the king­dom of Salzs­tadt is the per­fect stage for Sloot’s ad­ven­ture.

Peril‘s lan­guage is equally rich: in­ter­est­ing phrases, in­vented words, and dou­ble en­ten­dres twist the ear. Rather than fold in back­story or linger in de­scrip­tion, Hooker keeps the story mov­ing. The novel’s pace is quick but steady, skip­ping from plot point to plot point with pithy, di­a­logue-driven scenes.

Peril is Hooker’s sec­ond novel. The first of the Ter­ri­bly Se­ri­ous Dark­ness se­ries, it’s rem­i­nis­cent of Vic­to­rian se­ri­als, with a lib­eral num­ber of prat­falls thrown in. Al­though most of the novel’s sur­prises come from out­side Sloot—a pos­sessed love in­ter­est! Blood­thirsty can­ni­bals!—there are a few nice turns that de­velop his char­ac­ter more fully. Short chap­ters and ac­tion se­quences, as well as tightly writ­ten di­a­logue, make this novel a stand­out.

Peril is the best kind of bad fun. Like Sloot, it’s pretty good—but not well be­haved.

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