by Tim Byrd (Doc Wilde Headquarters - Blog - Personal Website/Blog)
G. P. Putnam's Sons
Hardcover - 15.99
There is never a dull moment when it comes to Doc Wilde and his family of swashbuckling explorers. Brian and Wren have been trained from an early age to keep up with their worldfamous father. With their driver Declan mac Coul and their butler Phineas Bartlett in tow, there is no obstacle they can’t overcome, no evil they can’t defeat, including mutant frogs from another dimension.
With an over-the-top nod to classic pulp adventure series, Tim Byrd has created a rip-roaring ride. Buckle your seat belt, and hold on tight!
Mr. Byrd has done what I would have thought was impossible. He has written an adventure story with almost no internal conflict whatsoever. And it works.
The Wilde family is a world-famous family of adventurers. Doctor Spartacus Wilde is the dad; tall and golden, with a muscular physique, the brains of a scientist, and so cool that he can handle anything--even the sight of his ten-year-old son plunging off the side of the Empire State Building. Throughout the story, nothing ruffles him. Well, one thing does. But only for a few minutes. He is an expert in everything he does--martial arts, marksmanship, foreign languages, nanotechnology--you name it.
His children, Brian and Wren, are his carbon copies, but each has a unique personality. They can think quickly while plunging off the side of a building, or while being dragged through underwater caves by mutant frogs. Their training is over-the top, and then back over it again. When they argue, they switch languages to try to trip each other up. And they love each other to pieces.
The Wilde family is assisted by two trusty employees, Declan mac Coul and Phineas Bartlett. Declan is a bearlike Irishman, and Phineas is a proper British majordomo. They insult each other mercilessly, but are the best of friends.
And then there's grandpa. He's gone missing. Again. The kids' reactions?
For naturally, it's time for an adventure.
The adventure is a blend of Cthulhuian gods and a 10-year-old boy's passion for all things squishy--like frogs. I mean, who can possibly find a frog anything but harmless? If anything, there a bit icky, but they don't even have claws! They have little suction-cup thingies. Look at it. It's kind of cute . . . in an amphibian kind of way.
Not Mr. Byrd's frogs. They are green menaces! They have claws and gnashing teeth! And tentacles!
It's fun. It's also smart. There's all sorts of interesting stuff in this little novel, like dark matter, nanotechnology (in a rather over-the-top way) and a smattering of Latin.
I can't finish this review without some remarks on the typography. It's partially straight-up novel, but interspersed throughout the text are comic-book effects, like this:
The whole book is this fun. It's only fault is that it's too short. Way too short. So short, that I wonder why they made it a hardcover. But like all juvenile hardcovers, the price is reasonable, especially considering all the great typographic effects. Amazon has a good deal on it.
Fun for everyone, age 10 and up!