The Monthly Review: Artemis Fowl.
Welcome to December! And what a cold one it is, too. In order to take your mind off the biting wind, snow, and rain, why not settle in as we take a look at the first book in the seminal Artemis Fowl series. Entitled simply: Artemis Fowl.
This book poses a very simple question: What if fairies were real? Well, in Artemis' world, they are. But these are not your run-of-the-mill Tinkerbell-style pixies. For while they do commune with nature, and use magic, they also pack guns, weaponized trolls, and a sprawling, technologically advanced society deep underground. How do they get above ground to do the whole "communing with nature" thing I mentioned? Oh, simple; they ride armored pods along thermal vents running from the Earth's core!
Let me pause here to clarify that I am not making any of this up.
The titular Artemis (or Master Fowl as he insists on being called) is an Irish boy genius, living in his ancestral home of Fowl Manor. He also has a problem. Five, to be exact. His mother is in a coma, his father is missing, his family funds are dwindling, he comes from a long line of grand-scale criminals, and he wishes to make the Fowl name one to be feared again. Two of these problems at least, he aims to solve through a grand scheme. What does this scheme entail? I'm surprised you even had to ask. He's going to kidnap a fairy, using information gleaned from their holy book (taken from an alcoholic sprite in Vietnam), and hold them ransom for a literal metric ton of gold.
He is successful by measures in this goal, believe it or not, but gets a little more than he bargained for when the fairy he bags turns out to be an elf named Holly Short. Holly is a captain in the fairy paramilitary organization known as the LEP (short for Lower Elements Police). Specifically, she's a member of the recon branch, responsible for high-threat operations above and below ground. This is known as LEPrecon. Again, this is all one-hundred percent true.
Nonetheless, Master Fowl's actions are unprecedented, since the fairies have managed to hide their existence from humankind for the last few thousand years, following a great war which forced them underground. And let me tell you, they are not happy to have had one of their own taken hostage.
The LEP throw everything they have at Fowl and his accomplices (which include his butler - an absolute monster of a man, literally named "Butler" - and Butler's sister, Juliet.). They try diplomacy, armed assault, the aforementioned weaponized troll, infiltration via dwarf, literally stopping time, and hitting the manor with a high-tech biological weapon that kills everything within, right down to the houseplants.
Are the LEP successful? Does the Fowl crew survive to see their plan through to fruition? Well... There are some spoilers I won't give out, because although I've been making this out to be a mad, incomprehensible romp, it does actually make perfect sense in context, and I highly recommend you check it out.
Though this book - and the series as a whole - is ostensibly aimed towards the teen/young adult bracket, this is a worthwhile read for anyone of any age thanks to its dark edge, and effective wit. It also just so happens that Never Enough Books has several copies in stock right now...
So that's it. The first installation of the Monthly Review. What are your thoughts? Have any books you'd like to see given exposure, for better or worse? Feel free to reach out or comment, and I'll see you in January.