Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I got the distinct feeling that the author has read Christopher Milne's The Enchanted Places because the similarity between Christopher Robin and Luke Hayseed is unmistakable. Like the real-life Milne, the fictional Hayman appears to be a rather passive observer in the lives of others: his unstable sister Rachel, his odd mother Martha, the German illustrator of the Hayseed book Lili, and the American "celebrity" Laurie. No matter what the situation, he's tongue-tied and virtually unable to say "no" with ease.
Unlike Luke, the rest of the characters are often more than strange. Laurie's lies and desperation to become part of the Hayman/Hayseed family, for example, or Travis' music career, which mutates out of his relationship with Rachel and Merry. At times I wished we'd stayed with Luke's point of view throughout the book because the veering into Laurie's or Rick's (or even Rachel's) felt forced. Perhaps that's the only way the exposition could have happened but honestly, it wasn't needed. Luke could have explained it all to us quite nicely.
The best part is that this isn't fantasy, and that there really can't be a sequel without ruining that which makes this book work so nicely. I wish I'd been able to give this 4.5 stars.
ARC provided by publisher.
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