Castle Perilous: Never capitalizes on all of its potential

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsJohn deChancie Castle series 1. Castle PerilousCastle Perilous by John DeChancie

Castle Perilous is a giant castle with 144,000 rooms that are portals to other worlds. These portals are constantly shifting in and out of other dimensions and occasionally they temporarily open up somewhere on Earth. At those times people may stumble into the castle and not be able to get back out. They become one of the permanent “guests” who have great food, luxurious accommodations, and servants to wait on them. Best of all, they get to explore some of the stable portals leading to exotic places. When Gene, Linda, and Snowclaw each stumble into Castle Perilous, it’s under siege by the jilted lover of the castle’s owner.

Here’s a novel that’s got some fun and whimsical ideas but never really capitalizes on all of its creative potential. I love the premise and the story is amusing, but it lacks passion and depth. The characters are shallow, we spend little time exploring the other worlds, and the humor is rather juvenile.

Castle Perilous is like one of those cool-looking kitchen gadgets you see on TV. It promises to be awesome, but when you get it you realize that it only does one job well and it takes up lots of drawer space, so you would have been better off just using your trusty paring knife. Castle Perilous is gimmicky and doesn’t deliver what it promises. But, still, sometimes gimmicky kitchen gadgets are fun… until you want your drawer space back.

I’d recommend Castle Perilous to a teenager looking for a fluffy fantasy read. Fans of Piers Anthony’s Xanth series or Robert Asprin’s MythAdventures are likely candidates. Castle Perilous is the first in an eight-book series. Because I like the premise so much, I may give the second book, Castle for Rent, a try, but my guess is that this series is just too light for me.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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