Thematically reminiscent of the Narnia series and Madeline L’Engle’s Time Quintet, Maggie Bowcock’s A Sublime Tale of Unnatural Events also employs the familiar fantasy scenario in which a remarkable family is called upon by an omniscient, benevolent higher power to help prevent a catastrophe.
The eccentric Maple family, residents of the town of Wonder, is the focus of A Sublime Tale. The matriarch, Marigold, is a painter; her husband, “Big Red,” is the local fire chief. They have many children, including protagonist Marjoram (“Jam”) and her brother Jack. One seemingly normal Wednesday, the family is transported to a heavenly realm. There, they learn from the Supreme Being, Dandelion, that they must win a battle against “the shadow,” which possesses an army of hornets in order to destroy the dragonflies, who are the warrior-guardians of Wonder. The family’s success or failure will determine the fate of the town.
As with the Narina series, some will embrace the religious themes and morals of A Sublime Tale; others will be turned off by them. Books with the message to “trust absolutely in God’s will” have long been enjoyed by even the most atheistic of readers–if the stories are good. The problem with A Sublime Tale is not its ideology, however; it’s the style of the writing.
The characters are flat, and the story is poorly paced and ultimately lifeless. Hamstrung by artless prose and riddled with typographical and formatting errors, such as unintended line breaks, and mechanical issues, such as misplaced quotation marks, the book’s biggest problem is that it feels long at a mere 66 pages. Unfortunately, despite its whimsical premise, A Sublime Tale of Unnatural Events ultimately ends up as unengaging as its title.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.