The riskier road: an excellent review of Three Fugitives
Traditional fantasy stories involving great quests and magical items have never really been my cup of tea, but I found plenty in Nat Howler’s debut novel to enjoy and I have no doubt that enthusiasts of the genre will eat it up.
Being his first novel Howler’s prose is wonderfully readable. He manages to brilliantly convey entire characters, landscapes and settings with the most minimal of descriptions, never allowing the galloping pace of the book to ever stumble into self-indulgence and ponderousness.
It’s clear that with its mostly clear-cut morality, action-packed story and “safe” language (there be no cussing or hanky panky here, ladies and gentlemen), Three Fugitives is designed to be devoured by younger readers and it will probably work best with them. I don’t say that dismissively, incidentally. Writing good “young adult” fiction that neither talks down to its audience nor bores them, is not something to be taken lightly and Howler does a fine job of that here.
Howler also takes the riskier road of making his characters more flawed than simply likeable, to the point that there will be times when you want to strangle every one of the stories protagonists. He does get the characters to ingratiate themselves to the reader as the story goes on but he makes them work for it. Not the safest way of doing things, to be sure, but it makes the characters more fully developed and some of the conflicts slightly less predictable.
I. Preskovsky – Cape Town