With Mouse, Richard Ford Burley has created a superb example of well written, engaging, speculative fiction. Edgy, unique, and fresh urban fantasy. Once begun, I couldn’t set it down. I received a copy of Mouse for review and went into this story blind. I hadn’t even read the blurb yet and was completely amazed by how I was totally taken in this smart urban fantasy.
It begins simply enough. Mouse is a 15 year old student on the autistic spectrum, coming into a new school a week after classes begin. He’s verbally challenged, but very bright and he does well academically as long as he isn’t required to work in a group, or do a presentation in front of a class. He’s enthusiastically befriended on his first day by a punk dressing girl with purple streaks in her hair who calls herself Bliss. He’s never met anyone like her before. Mouse doesn’t like to make eye contact with people. He watches the world from a perspective of the peripheral, identifying others by their shoes as he makes his way through the crowded halls, always a bit late to the next class, even with Bliss helping him navigate his way.
Within the first chapters, the book hooks you firmly with the characters, and the story is anything but simple. I could write hundreds of words attempting to explain it, but it would not scrape the surface of this book.
Richard Ford Burley takes this seemingly ordinary scenario and injects it with familiar pop culture and anime references that you expect to find in many urban fantasies, but after that, all similarities end. What appears to be an YA inspired fantasy, with young protaganists, quickly becomes a convoluted tale of paradoxes, timelines, powerful timeless beings, and magic.
The characters are highly defined and drive the story which unfolds like a fractal flower, building from within itself. It expands and grows in ever more complicated shapes, only to fold back in on itself again in ways that are unpredictable, delightful, and sometimes terrifying. All the familiar tropes are taken and twisted so well that they’re nearly unrecognizable. When the plot takes a turn into violence, danger, heartbreak, and death, you expect the deus ex-machina to drop, but it doesn’t. You may think you can see it coming, a revelation that will put it all in place for you, but you won’t get one. There is a surprise around every corner until it culminates into the one crushing goal, the work of a millennia of lifetimes, a loop of time that defies all attempts to break it.
The pace is break-neck when the action starts and it doesn’t stop until the last page.
Highly recommended for fantasy readers that love a unique story arc that makes readers think hard but still never loses you in all its very complicated turns. It is a brilliant must read!
*Mouse wouldn’t be your first choice to stop the apocalypse. He wouldn’t even be his own.
“Primarily non-verbal,” his file says, “anxiety and communication difficulty, nevertheless considerably bright.”
The world’s too loud for Mouse, all his dials are set to eleven, and just talking—let alone making friends—presents a very real challenge. But for reasons he can’t imagine, a purple-haired punk named Bliss has Decided They’re Friends, and things—for once— are looking up. Then, he meets a ghost and learns some magic, while an ancient cabal of alchemists and sorcerers alternately try to kidnap and enlist him—
Because, you see, he’s their last hope for saving the world, and the proverbial clock is ticking. Mouse wouldn’t be your first choice to stop the apocalypse. But then, sometimes life makes these choices for you.
About the author: Richard Ford Burley grew up in Markham, Ontario, where the most fun a kid could have was riding around on a bicycle and playing RPGs in a friend’s basement. He got a diploma, got a degree, got a *different degree,* and started writing Mouse while working on a *different different degree* (that he’s still kind-of working on). He now lives in Brighton, Massachusetts where he shares an apartment with two lovely ladies (one of whom may or may not be a cat named Ember) and a slowly-amassing army of Funko-Pops.
- Publisher: Prospective Press (August 1, 2017)
- Publication Date: August 1, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B072LZPGTB