2 out of 4 stars
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I'm sure most readers can remember a time when their parents read bedtime stories to them. Some of us may be parents ourselves and have taken on the tradition of reading to our children. Most parents would reach for a picture book as their children snuggle into bed, but Micah Genest insists that his book, The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot's Encounters, is full of stories that will delight both children and their parents. The book, which actually consists of three shorter volumes, follows a little girl named Harlot on her journey as she wanders from home and meets an assortment of mythical beings, both friendly and not. Children will enjoy the characters' funny actions and manner of speaking, while adults will do a double take when they catch on to the hidden meanings and innuendos throughout the book.
I picked this up with the intention of reading it before bedtime myself, although I don't have any children to read to. It seemed humorous and I enjoy mythical creatures, plus I was interested in seeing just how subtle the innuendos were. Unfortunately, while the premise was great and I thought the author did a wonderful job creating a world for Harlot and all these strange creatures, there were a lot of things that bothered me as I read.
The first major problem was a lack of editing. The author often misspelled words with homonyms, sometimes spelling the same word different ways on the same page. Punctuation and grammar misusage were also minor problems. But the poor editing exacerbated another problem. Sometimes I had a hard time following what was going on in the book. Genest does a good job of describing the creatures and why they act the way they do, but sometimes the writing will go from a leisurely explanation or conversation to 3 major events happening within the span of two sentences. The pace was a bit wild and some chapters ended rather abruptly. My final complaint is that I did not like Harlot at all. I know she is supposed to be a curious little girl, but she is rude and flippant and I would definitely not want my children to emulate her if I read this book to them.
That being said, the book wasn't all bad. Some of the characters sing songs that I believe kids would enjoy. As mentioned earlier, each character has a distinct manner of speech, so parents reading to their children could definitely get creative with voices while reading aloud. Also, I really enjoyed the illustrations in the book. There are only a few and they're a little dark, just like the cover, but they suit the story perfectly. I honestly wish there were more pictures showing the various characters that show up in the stories. The innuendos were definitely subtle and children wouldn't think twice about the euphemisms. One scene that really stuck out to me was Harlot sticking her fingers into something wet and delighting in the squelching sounds, encouraging everyone else to stick their fingers in, as well. Everything is very subtle, like that.
Unfortunately, because the cons outweighed the pros, I can only give The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot's Encounters 2 out of 4 stars. I did enjoy some of the stories, especially the ones at the end with the faeries, but I don't know that I would go out of my way to recommend the book to anyone. As I mentioned earlier, I wouldn't want to read it to children because I wouldn't want them to pick up any of Harlot's bad habits. Although Genest created an eery world with strange characters, the book needs a little more work in my opinion.
The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot's Encounters
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