The Wizard, The Witch & Two Girls from Jersey -- Lisa Papademetriou
High school juniors Heather and Veronica are complete opposites. (I want to know – did Lisa Papademetriou name them after the characters in Heathers, or is it a coincidence?) Veronica is the smartest girl in their grade and doesn’t like to spend much time on her appearance, favoring the college-sweatshirt-and-jeans look. Heather is popular, pretty bitchy, and always dressed to kill. They do, however, have one thing in common: English class.
“Give it back!” Veronica shouted, reaching for the book.
The guy behind the counter leaned forward to get a better look at the action.
The scanner fired—directly at Heather and Veronica. Light flashed. Thunder rolled.
When the smoke cleared, the bookstore clerk looked where the girls had been fighting on the floor. They had disappeared. All that was left was the copy of Queen of Twilight and two smoking coals.
The clerk stared for a minute, then did the only reasonable thing he could think of. He pressed the button on the intercom. “We need a cleanup in the checkout aisle,” he said.
Heather and Veronica find themselves in Galma, the fictional world depicted in Queen of Twilight. Within fifteen minutes, they’ve accidentally caused the death of the book’s heroine and shortly thereafter, Heather has been mistaken for the aforementioned princess. (Veronica is assumed to be Heather’s vassal, which is very much appreciated on Veronica’s part. Not.) The girls join up with a wizard, a Kiblar elf (they are traditionally bakers, but this one doesn’t have the talent for it) and a lascivious talking squirrel, secretly hoping that if they are able to complete the dead princess’ quest, the wizard will be able to send them home.
The book is part high-fantasy-satire, part silly-jokey-fantasy (Kiblar elves, Helmet of Unsmelliness), and part opposites-become-friends/learning-not-to-judge-by-appearances. I think I would have liked it better if it had been one part fantasy (whether it be satire or silly, though I’d personally prefer satire), one part friendship story. I found that the two types of fantasy just grated against each other. The ending was particularly predictable, but that might just be because I’m pretty familiar with the genre – including the books specifically about people from our world being catapulted into Fantasy Land. (Guardians of the Flame, anyone?)
There were parts that I loved – especially the moments when Veronica would realize that she was experiencing one of the many classic conventions of the fantasy genre – but my overall reaction was mixed at best.