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About The Book
Title: Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales
Author: A.C. Birdsong
On a small farm just outside of a tiny town lives Jacob, the last in a long line of Caretakers of Magic. His mission in life as the world’s only magician (in fact the only person who knows magic is possible) is to preserve magical skill in preparation for the day when magic is needed in the world. Other than what is required to train an apprentice, Caretakers aren’t to be practitioners, a tenet Jacob adheres to religiously.
Jacob has been teaching an apprentice, Palmer, for eight years. As a student, Palmer is a dismal failure, but this does not stop him from experimenting. Feeling that the pace of his instruction is unnecessarily slow, Palmer takes the little magic he knows, twists it, and uses it to trap Jacob and a young neighbor Lucy inside an old book of fairy tales (The Tall, Thick Book of Tales). Palmer refuses to release them unless Jacob imparts all magical knowledge to him in an instantaneous way.
From the moment of Jacob’s entrapment, Birdsong creates three interwoven storylines: Palmer’s dealings with the townspeople, who are searching for Lucy and quickly suspect Palmer for her disappearance; Jacob’s journey to escape, which takes him through scenes written into the book by Palmer, designed to harass Jacob and to speed his compliance along; and Lucy’s interaction with the book’s original characters, all magical themselves, trapped within the margins by Palmer’s spell, and are united in their desire to expel the intruders. Added to this mix are an enchanted bookworm and the fairy tales’ narrator, who have objectives of their own.
Readers will enjoy Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales. Birdsong skillfully mixes the real and the imaginary worlds with a lean and fast-paced style. A well-crafted and fun novel with colorful characters and great dialogue written for any fan of adult fiction, and suitable for young adults and older adolescents as well.
A.C. Birdsong wrote the first draft of Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales during an unseasonably cold winter in Athens, Greece. “I spent all my time either writing the story or searching for a reasonably warm and cheap place to write it. Often this left me huddled near tepid steam heaters in dingy hotel rooms, and drinking endless cups of weak Nes to fight the cold. Eventually the weather turned, which was not only fortunate for me, but for Jacob and Palmer as well, because they probably would still be fighting it out inside that book otherwise.”
A.C. lives in Seattle, where people voluntarily allow themselves to be trapped in books on a regular basis. This is his first novel.
Jacob’s face becomes grim. “Palmer,” he says, “tell me how you could do this.” Palmer’s grin widens. “It was easy! I simply cured myself of obesity!”
Jacob continues to gape. “Don’t be ridiculous! I haven’t taught you how to—” He shakes his head with exasperation. “You can’t cure obesity—it’s not possible!”
“Of course it’s possible! I’m your proof right here!” Palmer jumps up and down, then walks on his hands for a few steps. He falls and laughs, lying on his side on the grass. “I feel like a teenager! Heck, better!”
Looking up, he sees Jacob’s reddening complexion. “Hey, look,” he says, rising and brushing off his new jeans. “You taught me this and made me promise not to use it on anybody. So I used it on myself. Where’s the harm?”
Jacob shakes his head. “Palmer, with something like this, even the most skilled magician can’t know what the side effects might be. The psychological effects alone—”
Palmer frowns. “Look, I just wanted to see if it would work.” He smiles. “And it has! I didn’t hurt anyone. And look at me!” He spreads his arms and laughs again. “I’ll be a much healthier caretaker. What’s wrong with that?”
Jacob stands silently for a moment, a wisp of white hair floating back and forth across his forehead. “I’m truly sorry you have done this, Palmer. Truly sorry. I would like to have seen things . . . but no matter.” He turns toward the house. Keeping his back to Palmer, he says. “Go. As of now, I am dissolving our agreement. You are no longer, never have been, my apprentice. You do not understand what it means to be a caretaker. It’s apparent you can never know. I’m sorry, Palmer. This is how it must be. By the time you are sitting in your new car again, you will remember nothing of me, nor of any of the magic I taught you.” He looks back over his shoulder at Palmer. “Don’t worry, you can keep your new body.”
Palmer’s face falls. “Hey, wait a minute! You can’t just quit! We’ve worked too hard to . . . to. . .”
But Jacob is already going back to the garden. Palmer takes a deep breath. “Wait, Jacob! Wait! I—I came here to give you something. A peace offering, for my . . . my mistake the other day. Wait!”
Jacob turns around and watches as Palmer runs to the car. Reaching through the window, he takes a package from the passenger seat and anxiously runs back.
“Look,” he says, “I know this isn’t going to change anything, but . . . well,”—he thrusts the package at Jacob with both hands—“here.”
Jacob takes the brown-paper-wrapped object. Eying Palmer, who has turned away, he slowly and deliberately removes the wrapping. It is a large and dusty book. Jacob raises an eyebrow and brushes off the surface. “The Tall, Thick Book of Tales,” he reads aloud, turning it over. His face softens as he looks up toward Palmer. “Well. Thank you, Palmer. You humble me,” he says with a hint of sarcasm. “Now, if you’ll excuse me. . .”
Palmer glances angrily at Jacob. Gesturing to the book, he shouts, “At least read the damned inscription!” Jacob frowns, and Palmer lowers his voice. “Please.”
Jacob’s shoulders drop, and nodding, he sighs. “Oh, all right.” Propping the large book in the crook of his right arm, he lifts the cover. As he does, Palmer’s face lights up in a triumphant grin.
The moment Jacob opens the cover, a blinding flash of blue light illuminates the surprise on his face. His free hand begins frantically gesturing in the air over his head.
A second later, the book drops heavily to the ground. It bounces once and shuts itself with a soft slap. The brown paper wrapping tumbles into the garden fence, blown there by a gust of wind.
Palmer stands over the book, arms and legs outstretched, mouth open in a silent victory celebration. Jacob is nowhere to be seen.
Fun concept about getting trapped in the pages of a book and interacting with the characters already there, the unintentional side effects of magic, and what happens with things don’t go as planned. This is a fun read. It is a good read for all ages because it is intriguing, clean, intense, and funny. I think it is a good book for parents and kids to enjoy together and for reading groups of mixed ages, a plus in my circle of readers.
Very imaginative writing with fun twists and unusual circumstances. I hope to see more of Jacob and Lucy, even Palmer, in future books. The authors imagination soared to heights unseen before and left me with a longing to visit the world of the books I have read before and meet the souls of the books as worm has.
I give this book 4.5 out of 5 clouds.
This product or book may have been distributed for review; this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.
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