From a recent official Tempest in a Teardrop Book Club Irregulars meeting transcript.
Q: Christmas is rapidly approaching, and rather than recommend useless items such as the “I’m With Her Election Night Victory Commemorative Boxcutter,” I think we should focus on books, video games, or movies we like and think our readers might be interested in.
Codex: Good idea! We should start with the Rachel Griffin books by L. Jagi Lamplighter.
Q: So who is Rachel Griffin?
Codex: It’s Lady Rachel Griffin, actually, because her father, in addition to being an influential investigator for the government, is also Lord Griffin.
Glyph: She’s a cute half-Korean 13 year old girl who just started as a freshman at the Roanoke Academy. She is constantly defeating her mortal enemy, boredom, by going on adventures, missing sleep, and not doing homework. Homework, as we all know, is bad. So bad, in fact, that it is Not Good.
Codex: Nice try, but she does homework. In fact, magic spells don’t come easily to her, so she has to work extra-hard to learn them. Her ultimate goal is to find out everything there is to find out, because she loves secrets. Her dream is to become an adventurer-librarian, like her hero, Daring Northwest.
Q: Wait. She does magic?
Codex: Yes. The school is officially called the Roanoke Academy of Sorcerous Arts. The Wary, folks who are aware that magic exists, have their own society hidden from the rest of the world, who’re called the Unwary. Illusions are used to protect their way of life.
Glyph: They are still aware that the non-magical world exists, but they often get confused or misinterpret things. For example, they might explain Star Wars in terms of magic, not science fiction principles.
Q: Star Wars can be explained with science fiction principles? Do they at least acknowledge the prequels were terrible?
Glyph: Of course. No amount of magic could possibly convince anyone otherwise.
Q: Got it.
Codex: But there is so much more! Rachel has an eidetic memory, and —
Q: I’m sorry, a what?
Codex: A memory capable of perfect recall. Once she sees or hears something she can relive the details, as though they were occurring again right in front of her.
Q: I see. And she remains sane?
Codex: Spoilers! Her memory gives her a talent that nobody else seems to have. She can see through the illusions that protect the world. In fact, she can see that even the Wary who cast the illusions, have illusions upon them that they are unaware of. This makes the workings of magic very, very interesting in the context of the Rachel Griffin Universe, but — Spoilers!
Glyph: Oh! And she is best friends with Sigfried, who grew up in a London orphanage, where he was bullied and never had enough food. Siegfried is one of my favorite characters!
Q: That sounds like me. Was he consigned to the drawer with the irregular tableware?
Glyph: Of course not. He eventually went on to make friends with a dragon, and takes his revenge, not by burning the orphanage into charcoal, but by living fun.
Codex: She has other friends, of course. Some are hilarious, and some are annoying, but they are all memorable. It’s not like she could forget them, at any rate, and neither does the reader.
Q: Is there a romantic angle we need to warn some sensitive readers about?
Glyph: There is romance, but it isn’t the mushy kind.
Q: As your father, you have no idea how comforting it is to hear you say that.
Codex: An additional angle is the reason the Wary are magical. They are all descended from mythological creatures and old gods. The author pulls from folkways and cultures the world over for her story.
Q: Interesting. Once again, it doesn’t sound like these books have anything in common with Dr. Seuss books. How many stars are we subtracting for that? Half?
Glyph: None! She should have stars added for that!
Codex: Besides, there is a Lorax-like… person. But — Spoilers!
Q: Okay, fine. But is there a spork in the story? As you know, in CURRENT_YEAR all imagination has been removed from the world so I can only read, relate to, and like stories that feature characters of my particular identity type.
Glyph: Um, no. How could she possibly include a spork?
Q: Easily. I can even write the scene, which is a poignant commentary on the plight of my people and will enrich the Rachel Griffin universe.
The Dreaming was terribly difficult to navigate under optimal conditions, and it was a minor miracle that Rachel Griffin and the rest of the Die Horribly Debate Club had managed to keep their hands clasped as they burst into the clearing.
Their eyes locked with a Minotaur, and everyone froze.
The horned beast was monster-spreading on a white ribbon-backed tea chair under a dainty white tea-table. A cracked German beer stein seemed out of place on a doily cloth. In one hand he held a can of Elf Giblet Stew, and in the other a titanium spork, freshly dipped but motionless, its journey halted on the way to the fiend’s half-open mouth. The spork had eyes. It looked terrified.
The moment seemed to last forever. A giblet dripped off the utensil, falling onto the Minotaur’s denim vest, joining escapees from previous meals. Rachel and her friends began to back away. The Minotaur slowly resumed its dinner. The last memory burned into Rachel’s brain was the spork silently mouthing “Help Me” as it disappeared into the gaping toothed maw of the creature, its unbrushed teeth scraping every last bit of Elf goop from the scratch-resistant surface.
“Sometimes a dream is just a dream,” her P.E. teacher, Mr. Chanson, had told her. Rachel shuddered anyway. She’d seen how full the can had been. The spork’s ordeal was just beginning, and all she could recall at that moment was his tine-y, scared face.
Codex: That’s… not bad, actually. Still, it isn’t like Jagi is going to read this, so nice try.
Glyph: Yeah, good one, Dad. Besides, the King of Magical Australia probably has talking sporks.
Codex: Oooh! I love Magical Australia. It’s hilarious.
Q: Fine. So we’re concluding that the Rachel Griffin books are five stars, well worth reading for any age group, and would make a great Christmas present. Despite the fact that it neither has Seussian rhythmic prose or the presence of sporks.
Codex: Yes. Go! Buy! Read!
The Spork Speaks — Tempest in a Teardrop — tempestinateardrop.com