Sometimes adventure knocks. Other times, it kicks the door in.
“Dearest Alexandria and Ozymandias,
If you are reading this, I have perished. My demise likely involved some manner of spiked pit or curiously fanged beast, so it’s doubtful I suffered long. Do not try to find me – the path is too perilous, and I am lost to the mortal plane.”
When Alex and Ozzie read their grandfather’s latest “death” letter, they barely blink. Dying six times in two years has to be a record, even for an explorer as incompetent as Sir Quidby Forsythe III.
Faster than you can say “kidnapped by a giant, glowing lizard,” the Forsythe twins are dragged into a world of ancient prophecies, sarcastic swords of legend, mutant slime beasts, and a growing awareness their grandfather might be the greatest explorer in history.
With Skhaar the Annihilator hot on their trail, Ozzie and Alex must solve the mystery of Sir Quidby’s disappearance before they become the final victims of the Forsythe Curse.
Disclaimer: At Team Escapist, we have narrowed our original allocation down from 28 books to 8 Quarterfinalists. Each of us are reading in full and scoring out of 10 points. The top three books will move forward as Semifinalists. This review and score is my own personal experience. It does not represent the overall views of Team Escapist.
Debunked is a whimsical Sci-Fantasy that is for anyone who feels a strong sense of nostalgia for the classic adventure story. This modern take will have you escaping reality and adventuring through the skies of Terravenum. Debunked reminded me of a curious explorer; unable to be confined by the limits of imagination.
No particular genre can entirely claim it as its own. As a former SPFBO contestant, Debunked entered its sister competition seeking a new adventure. There were some Indiana Jones vibes at the beginning and l loved that the story began with the grandfather’s letter. The tone of the story is quickly conveyed to the reader. I’m smiling to myself as I write this review because I’m remembering so much of the joy I had reading this story.
“Great men chase horizons. Exploring shows us who we are, but debunking whispers who we might become.”
The setting is very dangerous to our main characters yet you never fear too hard for their safety. There are strong elements of mystery where the characters are collecting clues and solving ancient puzzles using magical artifacts and technology. Despite the fact that they are constantly trying to outrun the villains and escape impossible situations, the stakes never felt like life or death. I think that is the best way that I can describe the atmosphere and tone of the story.
The science fiction elements revolve around airships, these creepy little translating devices, dynami (which is like their magic) infused into special technology, mechanical devices, sky cities, and so much more. The aesthetic involves a lot of mechanical parts and machinery.
“There must be a mistake,” Alex said. “Our grandfather wasn’t a good explorer– he mostly wandered around until someone rescued him.”
I fell hard for many of the places the main characters visited like Amnesia and my favorite, Contrivance. It was such a ridiculous place that made me laugh. I had such a great time there. Each place they visited was so uniquely different and I am astounded by how much detail went into the plotting. Footnotes were scattered throughout the story providing additional history and details, which I thought was a good decision because it kept those fun extra details to a minimum so that the story still flowed.
Debunked features some wonderful found family vibes through a diverse cast of unlikely characters- a camel, a lizard, and two humans. Pascal (Dromedarians) and Layla (Sauracians) were such quirky, fascinating characters with unique characteristics and skill sets. All of the characters that we meet added value to the overall story. The story is told through the perspective of the kids which I think was a good decision. There maintained a sense of wonder and curiosity which is how I felt the author intended the story to be.
“Skhaar fishes around in his chest pocket and retrieved the crumpled Interrogation Prompt Card his supervisor insisted he carry at all times.”
There were moments when the plot moved forward a little too conveniently with a magical solution or sudden revelation; however, it worked because it prevented the plot from becoming too convoluted. Overall, the faster pace kept the reader engaged and entertained. I hope we learn more about the Ancients and the voice behind that talking sword in the next installment.
I use a rating system that considers the characters, setting/world building, atmosphere/tone, writing/narrative style, plot, intrigue, enjoyment, pacing, originality of ideas, and use of themes. After rating each of these areas individually out of 10, I add up, divide and I’m left with a final score that has taken into consideration many different aspects of the story. For the purpose of the SPSFC2 competition, this is a rating of 8 out of 10. As a reminder, this review only represents my personal opinion and does not reflect the entire teams thoughts. Thank you for reading.
Leave a Reply