Dr. Addie Cox is a literature professor – very happy with her job and the assumption that she is making a mark on impressionable young minds. It’s a comfortable life and she’s happy with it. Then her status quo changes when Harris Lang, a billionaire tech genius offers her a job.
Lang owns an island off the western coast of the United States. His intention was to create a high-tech fantasy resort with unicorns and dragons and magic of all sorts. But one as real as possible, not just simple animatronics like many theme parks.
There’s been one problem with Lang’s plan … one of his lead designers has gone rogue and has taken over the island and put in place a powerful defensive system. A Coast Guard ship that tried to pass through the invisible barrier was destroyed with all hands lost. Now, Addie is to join a highly trained military attack squad to infiltrate the island and wrench control back for Lang.
Why Addie? Well, for starters she’s a Dungeons & Dragons fan and in the course of her teaching she teaches a lot of pop-culture and geek-culture – the sorts of things one might run into on an island of this sort. The other reason is that the designer who’s taken over is Dominic Brand, Adie’s ex-boyfriend.
I really wanted to read this because of how much I enjoyed the last two books that I read by Carrie Vaughn – Bannerless and The Wild Dead. I could tell from the description that this wasn’t likely to be set in the same universe, but any book by Carrie Vaughn is worth reading.
For the most part, the book reads just like what it appears to be … a D&D adventure. What’s different about this is that it makes no bones about it. In fact, it is played up. Addie jokes about it being a D&D adventure and her role in it (“I’m not the wizard. I’m the Bard.”). She is the ne who often has to figure out the answers to the clues around them, and she has to step in and stop the fighters from just killing everything in front of them.
The island is set up like a D&D game, so this all makes sense, and it’s kind of fun to see this game, inside a story, which is set up like a game.
Addie’s joining this excursion is a little bit of a stretch (really … there was nobody better qualified?) and while she talks about slowing down the squad, and they talk about her (when they think she isn’t listening) slowing them down, she of course rises to the occasion and proves herself – again and again. In this sense it’s a bit of a Mary Sue story.
Categorizing this book is a challenge. It’s an adventure story, but set in a false fantasy world. All the fantasy elements are artificial, no matter how ‘real’ they appear. Even one of the main characters has their ears cosmetically changed so that they are pointed elf ears – they’re real, but fake. So is this a fantasy? No, and yes. Does it matter? Only in the sense that while this is set up like a thrilling adventure where the main characters could be killed at any moment, it reads like a light-hearted fantasy. No amount of explaining how dangerous it all is, or even deaths among the characters actually mkes it feel dangerous. Not once did I worry about how this was going to end.
The characters are nicely established and the overall plot works well and author Carrie Vaughn’s writing is just really nice and straightforward. I wanted something a little tougher, something with some ‘grit’ (maybe because of the previous books I’ve read by her?) but I did enjoy this. This is a perfect book for an airport read or beach read.
Looking for a good book? Questland by Carrie Vaughn is a D&D style adventure that takes you to a remote island that has been converted to a D&D style theme park and a group will have to work together to defeat the evil currently ruling the island. Fans of the genre will love this. Geeks will geek out.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Carrie Vaughn
publisher: Mariner Books
paperback, 304 pages