Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson, Eugene Yelchin

Elves and goblins have been at war for about a thousand years when the elfin king decides to send an emissary to the goblins with an offering - a large gemstone found underneath the king's wading pool.  The head of the king's secret police force chooses his old schoolmate Brangwain Spurge to deliver the stone.  Spurge was picked on in school and nicknamed Weedy and his schoolmate feels he would be an unassuming choice (and easy scapegoat).  Spurge is sent to the goblin kingdom where he is hosted by Werfel, a fellow scholar who is anxious to make the elf feel at home and to impress the goblin overlord.  Unfortunately, all of Werfel's efforts are for naught as Spurge constantly finds fault with everything he sees and seems completely uninterested in sharing any information.  The two also disagree over matters of fact about who provoked the other and started the war.  But after Spurge slips away in a failed attempt to spy on the goblins, the two are both under suspicion and find their fates intertwined as they escape together. 

I expected a silly book from M.T. Anderson and I was not let down.  Werfel is wonderfully hospitable and his feelings are so easily bruised by his rude guest who doesn't start to realize what all they have in common until things start to go wrong.  It's not until Spurge is in danger himself that he began to interest me as that was the point where he finally developed some sort of personality.  And the revelation about the gemstone was also a turning point in my interest in the story.  While I ended up liking the book and chuckling at the humor, I feel like it is another one of many books that appeals to adults but will have a very limited audience with teens.  The cover does it no favors and the humor is sly.  Since it is nominated for a reading program in my county I will have the chance to see if my assumptions about how teens respond to it are accurate.

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