Book review: Fairy Rides the Lighting

Fairy Rides the Lighting
By Patrick Thomas
Published by Padwolf Publishing Inc. 2012
ISBN: 978-890096-50-2
Review copy purchased by reviewer

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

If you believe in fairies, clap your hands. If you believe in Terrorbelle, give her a high five. But brace yourself! She’s not your typical fairy gal, with dainty hands and butterfly wings, so light you could knock her over with a feather. No, this badass fairy is more likely to knock you down, or at least leave you with a badly bruised hand when you high five her. She’s half pixie and half ogre, which means she’s built like a brick house and has razor-edged wings that can slice your hand off if you try to touch her inappropriately. In other words, Terrorbelle is no stranger to trouble. And in Patrick Thomas’ latest account of her adventures, our little fairy warrior is up to her pretty pink hairdo in trouble.

It starts as a peaceful weekend with her friend Rudy (aka Thrud the Valkyrie), who invites Belle to spend the weekend at her father’s place in Ulster County. Rudy’s father is Thor, the Thunder God of the Norse pantheon, who’s been living here on Earth since he had an argument with his father some centuries ago. The old thunderer has become a gentleman farmer who plows his land with himself in the harness, and likes to play “ride the lightning” with his daughter, which he does by throwing his famous hammer Mjollner at her from a distance. When it hurls itself around her and comes back at him with the handle flying low to the ground, Rudy jumps on it and rides it like a skateboard, jumping off just before it returns to Thor’s hand. Belle soon learns to play this game too, just before the thunder god receives a summons from Asgard to return home. Incidentally, “ride the lighting” is also Asgardian slang for doing something really brave or extremely stupid. The adventure that follows upon their arrival in Asgard qualifies as both.

It seems there’s been a murder in Valhalla, where the souls of all the brave warriors who died in battle spend all day fighting and all night feasting. You may think it’s not possible to kill the dead, but remember that vampires and zombies are also technically dead, yet they can be killed. So it is with the souls of the fallen warriors of Valhalla, who are healed of their battle wounds every night by drinking mead from a magical horn that never runs dry, as they stuff themselves with roasted meats and other goodies in the banquet hall. One warrior, Adar, fails to return to the hall for the evening feast and is found the next morning lying dead, truly dead, on the battlefield, with a huge hole in him that looks like Thor’s hammer burned it through him. The fact that the deceased is also an old boyfriend of Rudy’s only adds to her anguish, when her grandfather Odin accuses her father of murdering Adar.

Terrorbelle helps to round up the usual suspects, which include:
1) Loki the Trickster, Thor’s brother, who is kept chained up in the mountains while a huge serpent drools venom on him, though thanks to a certain human bartender who started this saga, a series of friends takes turns guarding a modified shield that keeps the venom off. Loki is also set free twice a year—once officially, but the other on the sly—during which he may have had time to arrange this new bit of mischief, just to annoy his brother.
2) Brokk the Dwarf, who invented Mjollner but never got paid for it because it was flawed by a too-short handle, which gives him a permanent grudge against Thor.
3) Freyja, the Norse love (or lust) goddess, owner of the enchanted necklace Brisingamen (which the author strangely fails to mention by name), with four red gems that give her the power to arouse lust in men. But someone has recently added a yellow gem, which arouses lust in women. And when Belle and Rudy search Freyja’s castle for the missing horn-of-plenty that dispenses magical mead, they find a duplicate of Mjollner and a strange, handsome man in modern designer clothing, who applauds their efforts at detection and offers them their hearts’ desires to stop looking for clues. Another suspect? Or just a collaborator?

As if the situation wasn’t complicated enough, Brokk the inventor demonstrates his inventiveness by creating a new golden eye patch for Odin, which puts him under Brokk’s control. Before you can say Yumping Yiminy, Thor is arrested for Adar’s murder, Rudy and Belle are banished from Asgard, and Thor ends up chained beside Loki on the mountain. Brokk then reveals his control over the Midguard Serpent by ordering it to kill both the gods and John Murphy, the faithful friend manning the shield that keeps the venom off of Loki. Our fairy friend finds herself riding the lighting in more ways than one, as she tries to prove Thor’s innocence, protect Murphy, her secret crush, find out Freyja’s part in all of this, and survive a high speed chase out of Asgard by a maddened Brokk, as she uses those razor-sharp wings of hers to fly over the rainbow bridge back to our world to get help from Bullfinche’s Bar.

Oh, did I mention that a Valkyrie named Hladgunner, who bears a close resemblance to Denise Campbell as Sela (with the same nasty attitude), has recently replaced Mista, the head of the Valkyries and Belle and Rudy’s friend? She seems to be intimately involved with Brokk and knows more than she should about the circumstances involving Adar’s murder. She’s a bitch and a bully who cheated during a challenge to get her new post, and has the nerve to challenge our Belle to a duel, only to back down when Belle threatens to bring her boss Nemesis to act as her second. (See, there’s always a bigger fish, something bullies tend to forget when they throw their weight around.) She’s just another complication for our badass fairy gal to overcome while she tries to prove Thor’s innocence and survive the wrath of Odin.

Once again, my homeboy Patrick Thomas proves himself the master of urban fantasy. He takes a lot of liberties with traditional folklore when writing his own sagas, but then so does Mercedes Lackey, whom I strongly suspect would enjoy an evening spent with my homeboy discussing The Tradition, or what usually happens when the circumstances of a human’s life closely resemble those of a traditional fairy tale. Patrick even wrote about that too, in another of his books titled “Once More Upon A Time”, a collaboration that he wrote with Diane Raetz. Now if he’d only remember to do some research before writing about certain mythologies (like including the name of Freyja’s necklace—naughty, naughty, Patrick!), he’d be able to stand toe-to-toe with established authors like Mercedes Lackey. But not too close; if he steps on her toes, he might find himself in her next book as the brave little tailor who gets in over his head while pretending to be a hero.