2 out of 4 stars
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The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot's Encounters by Micah Genest is a fairy tale for adults. It is described as a fairy tale because there are fairies, trolls, knights and some imaginary beings. The book feels like a wild ride, one taken after ingesting a hallucinogenic drug and then stumbling about in the dark for quite some time. There are twists, turns, falls and mind-bending events centred on a girl named Harlot. The name of the protagonist i.e. Harlot clearly reveals the recurring theme in the book. The author has made sure that she has an encounter of an unsavoury kind in every other chapter.
Harlot begins her adventures from a humble village. Her journey turns more warped with each chapter. The time span of the story is not clear because, over the course of the book, Harlot has a baby (which is not exactly described as a baby), has many carnal encounters and still behaves like a petulant child. In the end, I felt overwhelmed and could not keep track of all the beings she met and left during her journey. Harlot is an extraordinarily brave girl. Throughout the book, she is abused, threatened and mistreated. Yet, she never identifies as a victim. She bounces back almost immediately and moves on to further adventures. She meets different people who pop in and out of her life. She takes it in stride and continues her journey.
I genuinely liked the rhymes and illustrations in the book. The author has designed them with incredible talent and interwoven them into the story. This book has many hyphenated names for characters, like crowned-alter-fop, mog-made-of-scrapes-of-metals-and-woods and the-man-with-a-can-for-a-head. The author has also mentioned holes, boxes, pricks and sticky substances quite a lot. To be honest, I am ill-equipped to understand half of the innuendos in the book. If the author was making clever double entendre while talking about butter-maidens and alter-fops, it was completely lost on me. After a while, trying to find a hidden meaning became tedious.
Even though the book is only 150 pages long, it took me a week to read it. This was because I did not understand the purpose of these adventures. It is clear that the author has derived inspiration from the works of Lewis Carroll, and I am sure the author had a lot of fun writing it. However, I was expecting a fairy tale with different kinds of adventures and themes. Perhaps, it was my ignorance to understand the sexual references or jokes. Perhaps, it was my expectation of a different kind of storyline. I was disappointed and could not enjoy the book. Nevertheless, this boat ride without oars or any kind of steering mechanisms took me inside a warped whirlpool of confusing adventures.
The author has mentioned in the description of the book that some mistakes that might seem like typographical errors were made deliberately for the sake of comedic or poetic effect. As an example, the author has cited that the word “quean” (which means prostitute) has been used instead of “queen”, for comedic effect. This is understandable in that context. However, I felt that the book has a profusion of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, which I do not think were made deliberately. In one place, three paragraphs were repeated verbatim. Therefore, I think this book could use some editing. For the reasons provided above, I give The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot's Encounters by Micah Genest a rating of 2 out of 4 stars.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read fast-paced tales of pointless adventure. This book can also be read when you are drunk or on a mental high since you will not be expecting anything to make sense then. The language is engaging and humorous. This tale is not recommended for those who enjoy intricate plots and well-explained journeys. It is also not meant for children or anyone who gets offended by sexual innuendos.
The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot's Encounters
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