Despite the off-putting cover, I picked up a copy of Terry Irving’s The Last American Wizard from Amazon.
Description from Goodreads:
Mystically powered terrorists unleash volatile magic on the world, turning Washington, D.C., into a politically charged fantasyland ripe for human sacrifice.
A trio of suicide attackers with magical abilities bring down a 747 by summoning a dragon to rip it from the sky, using the hundreds of lives lost as a sacrifice to initiate the Change. The country morphs into a new landscape of swords and sorcery. Now computers and other machines are coming to life, and regular people have started to turn into mythical creatures and forgotten deities, creating a chaotic world easily seized by whoever—or whatever—set this shift into motion. Hope appears in the nation’s capital where, along with transforming Democrats into potbellied elves, Republicans into cantankerous dwarves, and Tea Party members into trolls, the Change has granted struggling freelance journalist Steve Rowan the abilities of the Tarot Arcana’s Fool card, making him a powerful, yet unreliable, wizard. Realizing his potential, he is “hired” by the trivia-obsessed sentient computer Barnaby and coupled with the attractive, no-nonsense female Navy SEAL Ace Morningstar to uncover the puppet masters behind the plane crash. –Kirkus Reviews
Hmm, what to say about The Last American Wizard. “Ho-hum” comes to mind. On the plus side, the book is funny and it is a page turner. I liked the characters and the writing was quite readable.
On the negative side, it wasn’t well fleshed out. There were a lot of arcana/tarot related info drops and some repetition (sometimes of the info drop information). But that information wasn’t fully utilized. And it didn’t always seem to obey its own rules. For example, all the divine or mythical creatures were supposed to have come into existence after the events at the beginning of the book, but characters who shouldn’t have existed before that have histories together and sometimes greet each-other as old friends. How does that work?
The comedy was over-played at times, especially around Ace. It approached eye-rolling territory more than once. But I had a serious problem with the fact that within hours of the inciting events, when people started turning into trolls and fairies and cards of the arcana everyone calmly went about their business, even incorporating their new abilities into their jobs, as if this was perfectly normal. There was no panic or anger or evidence of fear. There was NO BELIEVABLE EMOTION around this huge change at all actually.
My biggest critique however is the lack of ending. The major baddie isn’t stopped (or even identified). The minor baddie is only temporarily dispatched. No mystery is solved. No final solution is even discussed. The character just ran around for 300+ pages putting out whatever fire popped up and then basically said, “Let’s go for a beer and save the world tomorrow.” There was no peak to the plot, let alone a tapering off to an end. An event in the beginning sparked off a change and then the whole book coasted at one speed and elevation until it just stopped. This never ever makes me happy.