Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Little People - Tom Holt

2002; 374 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Comedic Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 7½*/10.

    Mike Higgins keeps seeing elves.  Not that he wants to; they just seem to keep running into him.  Very strange.  Even stranger is the fact that his girl friend, Cruella Watson, believes him and is okay with it.  Which is better than his stepdad, who also believes him and is most definitely not okay with it.

What's To Like...
    The wit will have you chuckling and the metaphors (eg : "she looked up at me, bewildered as a chameleon on a paisley scarf") will have you groaning.   It's written in British, not American, so you have to figure out 'foreign' words, such as Sellotape, kip, biro, etc.  There also are some obscure references to track down, such as Isambard Brunel, Peter Tatchell, and Occam's Razor.

    There is adventure for the guys; romance for the gals.  There is mystery for the inquisitive, and parallel universes for us dimension-hoppers.  And there are elves.  Lots of them.

Kewlest New Word...
Stroppy : easily offended or annoyed; ill-tempered.

    She was sullen, razor-tongued and miserable as sin, having a father who lived behind a desk in a solicitors' office and a mother who despised her because her hair didn't go with the curtains.  I saw elves.  Who in God's name else would want either one of us?  (pg. 10)

    When you can't solve the whole problem, my aunt Sheila once told me, nibble off the simplest bit of it and try solving that;  it probably won't get you anywhere much, but at least you won't feel such a total dead loss.  (pg. 80)

    "I mean, Nobel Prizes, they're all very fine and splendid but at the end of that day it's just another bit of clutter on the mantelpiece every time you dust.  The money, on the other hand..."  (pg. 182)

"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a pointy ear for a pointy ear"  (pg. 321)
    For whatever reason, I find British humorists much funnier that American humorists.  Tom Holt has been compared to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, but I find him more akin to Robert Rankin, and that's a great big plus.

    There are some weaknesses in Little People.  At times, there's too much telling and not enough showing.  For all the verbiage devoted to them, I really expected Mike's parents to be more than bit players in the book.  The ending stutter-steps and is a bit clunky.

    Still, this is a light, entertaining read, which also gives some intriguing insight on the two meanings of "little people".  Thoughtful humor has to be difficult to write, but it's a joy to read when it's done well.  7½ Stars.

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