Talnut
by JH Wear, fantasy (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-623-X


Take a look at that fellow on the cover, folks. I wonder what author JH Wear really feels about the cover, heh, because I can't imagine any guy, especially one who is married with grandchildren, will find the gay club stripper outfit the fellow is wearing on the cover appealing to his aesthetics. The hot pants the fellow is wearing will be a magnet for all kinds of really bad "Ooh, I know why this book is called Talnut... get it? Nuts?" jokes.

Of course, personally, were I the author and there is a documented study that proves how, say, a picture of a gerbil popping out of a man's rear end will move my books like nobody's business and bring me the money, I'd say go for it and we may as well make the gerbil glow while we're at it, so I can only hope for Mr Wear's sake that girly-faced Ken dolls in gay club stripper outfits are hot enough to move the books off the virtual shelves into readers' hard drives.

Anyway, meet Carl. He's naked in a strange, if picturesque, beach and he has no idea how he ended up here. He dimly recalled being abducted by aliens for some intergalactic molesting session before blacking out. When he comes to, he's here... wherever "here" is. It turns out that he's in a strange place which resembles Earth but this place, Sorbital, pretty much traps its inhabitants into staying thanks to a desert at one end and a sea full of unfriendly monsters at the other end. Carl meets up with nineteen-year old Tanya and her mother, the witchdoctor Theresa. The women apparently have predicted his arrival beforehand and he's sure that if he gets cozy with Tanya, life in Sorbital may not be that bad and he won't miss Seattle too much. But Carl is special, according to Tanya. The folks here are all like him, stranded here without knowing how they ended up here, but he's the only one that shows up here with his memories of his past life in Seattle intact. Is Carl going to be the fellow to discover the secrets of this place and get them all back home?

I hope nobody who buys this book expecting Talnut to be some gay futuristic romance like the cover suggests because this one is actually a fantasy story of a man lost in a strange world making a name for himself. Kinda like Planet Of The Apes, if you will. The romance isn't the main aspect of the story and frankly I find Tanya pretty silly at times. Carl also remains a rather superficial character. Then again, this isn't a character-driven story, this is an action-driven one as Carl happily plays the unexpected hero and discovers the various dangers this mysterious land has to offer.

This story is an interesting one and I like the various challenges and dangers this place has to throw at poor Carl and company. However, at the same time there is a rather unsophisticated quality to the writing that has me thinking that this book was some kind of very young adult story that somehow ended up with a cover that targets randy young adult girls looking for stories of skinny boys playing whack-the-salami with each other. The characters tend to think out loud things that should be obvious to them, for example. This is a pretty transparent way of the author to clue the reader in on what is going on in that scene, one that occurs usually in stories aimed at very young adults who may miss the obvious or in works by inexperienced authors who haven't learned to trust their readers to read between the lines.

Come to think of it, I believe I am entertained by Talnut because of how it reminds me of all those adventure-filled stories I've read when I was a kid. I may not remember the titles of those stories or the names of the authors, but I still remember being young enough to have an appreciation for those uncomplicated stories that taught me the meaning of vicarious adventures and turned me into the incurable bookworm that I am today.

Well, all I can say is good luck to Mr Wear and we'll see where he goes from here. Don't get too blue about the cover - I doubt I would have read this book were not for the crotch potato of that fellow on the cover and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one to do this, heh.

Rating: 78


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