No Country for Old Gnomes is an astoundingly original take on the fairy tale genre, pairing every fantastic creature you can imagine with a fantasy kingdom worthy of housing them. The writing is smart and sharp, providing endless laughable moments as you get to know these strange and varied characters. From a gothic young gnome to a dwarf filled with anger to an ovitaur entrusted with a sacred mission, you’ll have no trouble finding plenty to love about this brilliant novel.
The kingdom of Pell is a fascinating place. I’m new to the setting and was floored by the originality on every page. The authors take the tropes and stock characters you’d expect to find in any run-of-the-mill fairy tale and turn them on their head. Gone are the fables, replaced by extremely real situations where they’re forced to adapt to their hectic surroundings. The witch doesn’t eat the young gnome who wonders into her cottage, but has her do a few chores before sharing one of her shiny red apples. A young gnome laments about the burden of being cheerful, wishing to espouse the expected bright sweaters for black cardigans. Everyone’s existence is quirky and not quite what you’d expect, making for a delightful reading experience.
I also loved the progression of the story. We’re not following a single character as they embark on an epic journey alone. We get to enjoy multiple storylines with a variety of different perspectives of the world at hand. Some show us the impending war between the gnomes and halflings, others show us what it’s like to rule as a man who once was a goat. Above all, the book is hilarious, filled with unexpected jokes and asides you’d never expect in a storybook world.
Overall, No Country for Old Gnomes is a bit of brilliance, from the group of wildly entertaining characters to the infinitely creative setting, right down to the brilliant title. You might just find yourself wishing you could visit this strange world.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. Book cover image used by permission from the publisher.
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