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The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot's Encounters

In the this story, we follow Harlot as she pretty much frolics, dances and feasts her way through what we can only call an enchanted woodland. Now as with every such woodland, there are wonders, beautiful creatures, amazing adventures and ill-intentioned beings. This is not a tale for kids, as many of the happenings will demonstrate.

After being pranked by two not-so-friendly boys, Harlot decides to plot her revenge, but is decidedly sidetracked, when the next day, while collecting firewood, she follows a very strange looking creature back to its woodland home. And much like Carroll's Alice, finds herself in a completely dark and wondrous world. Here begins Harlot's journeys through her very weird and delightful encounters. After being rescued from a very warm affair, Harlot accompanies her rescuer only so far as he begins to annoy her.

The stories do not only focus on Harlot, but in some instances gives the reader a view of what some of her companions themselves are experiencing, as is the case with the three-foot-tree and the tortoise. Upon being separated from the girl, the tortoise and the three-foot-tree run into some rather aggressive Spriggans and after, have a very enjoyable time at the carnival, where a new companion is gained in the form of the mog-made-of-scrapes-of-metals-and-wood.

Throughout the book, it is clear to see the clever and creative imagination of Genest. It is evident in the descriptions that are detailed and paint a vivid picture of the places Harlots comes upon and the rather odd, beautiful creatures and beings she meets. Every encounter is a new one and each insidious creature becomes more sinister the deeper she travels within these woods. As is evidenced when their feast at the House of Hospitality is interrupted by a knight, who night after night expresses his desire to sate a hunger that food cannot. When it becomes clear that it will not be given freely, the unchivalrous knight sets out to take it by force and is brought to his demise by his own weapon. The quips made by the narrator throughout the story adds such humour, that even if one is annoyed with Harlot, the story is still enjoyable. As for the innuendos peppered here and there, they most assuredly bring this book into the sphere of fairy-like-tales for adults.

Our heroine is quite determined to have things her way and as such can get very irksome. Her quests are always to satisfy some want that she has, whether it's for a castle or for riches. However, her inquisitive nature sees her become easily sidetracked from each mission that she sets out upon. As by the end of the book, Harlot is having such fun with her three friends, that she has forgotten that she desired to gift the best box ever crafted to the man-with-a-can-for-a-head, in order to own his riches. We personally would have loved if she had returned with a box, if only to see what her reward would have been, as well see her finishing the quest to become a quean in the Land of Ick and Eck.

An entertaining romp through woodlands both fair and dark, with a willful heroine, deceptive man-like creatures and helpful beings, brimming with adventure.

Thanks to the author, Micah Genest, for giving us the chance to read and review.

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