Angst by David J Pedersen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
FULL DISCLOSURE: This book was written by my husband, and I edited it.
Marital pride & bias aside, I loved this book. It's adventurous, imaginative, quirky, suspenseful, twisted, and just plain fun. Think "Evil Dead" meets "Princess Bride".
Here's the copy I wrote for the back cover (which is slightly different than what went to production):
You probably already know Angst. In fact, chances are good you’ve known Angst for quite a while. You may work with Angst. You could be friends with Angst. You may even be married to Angst. If you know the feeling of compromised dreams, ever-increasing expectations, chronic frustration and the burden of unfulfilled potential, you know Angst.
This is Angst’s story.
As a young man Angst wanted to make a difference, to make his mark in history, to be remembered for heroic deeds and wondrous acts. He knew he was destined for something great, but had the feeling he had somehow missed it. Now it’s too late. Not only is 40 far too old to become a knight, Angst is one of few “blessed” with the ability to wield the magics. But his blessing is more like a curse. Kind of like the rest of his life.
For 2,000 years Magic has been repressed, outlawed, even outright destroyed throughout the world of Ehrde. By law, Angst is reduced to using his great power only to file papers. His marriage is on the rocks, his friends are bored with him, and he hates his job. The one person that makes him happy is the young Princess Victoria who seems to adore him. Unfortunately, that makes his boss, the Queen, hate him.
Without warning, Ehrde is besieged with horrifying monsters -- birds with metallic beaks like blades, monkey creatures that can dive through solid ground, mindless horse-eating giants. The world that shunned magic now turns to Angst for help, and he is happy to listen...once his back stops hurting.
On the edge of a mid-life crisis, Angst decides to risk it all, dragging his reluctant friends along with him on an adventure into the heart of magic. He’s not sure where they’re going, or what they’ll find, or even if they’ll all survive. But he knows this is his one chance to be a hero because the only way to fight magic is with magic. What’s the worst that could happen?
The plot surprised me several times - I didn't see the twists coming, and found myself gasping and exclaiming "NO!" out loud. The story also contains some rather horrific scenes I wasn't expecting, but they add to the "real-ness" of the experience. I was completely drawn into the world of Ehrde, easily imagining the landscape along their journey, the fight scenes, and the banter between characters.
Each character is so unique, and adds so much to the richness of the story. This isn't just Angst's story - his tale can't be told without the addition of his friends, because each is a part of his history, as well as his present. The dialogue between characters is inspired, with the perfect rhythm you would expect from a group of people who have known each other for years. And I can almost guarantee that most female readers will absolutely love Rose's sassy remarks - she seems to have almost no filter, and says what we wish we could say in many situations.
So, yes, I am biased when it comes to this book. But I'm also an avid reader, and have read my share of fantasy books. This one is right up there with my favorites.
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