By: Zari Reede
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Publication Date: December 2018
Reviewed by: Skyler Boudreau
Mindy Nichols is an agent of the Inner Space Monitoring Alliance, or "ISMAT." This secret government agency is charged with protecting Earth from a phenomenon known as "Blinking." Blinking is an occurrence that connects Earth with the strange world of Ortharos, swapping their inhabitants back and forth with no discernible pattern. It's 1975, and as New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebration is in full swing, Mindy is forced to abandon the festivities when her husband Jim is Blinked away and replaced with one of Ortharos' otherworldly inhabitants.
Blinked opens with a bang, thrusting readers headfirst into the behind-the-scenes battles taking place between the ISMAT agents and the displaced creatures of Ortharos. Author Zari Reede wastes no time in acquainting the audience with the dramatic battle sequences that carry the rest of the novel forward.
Ortharos is a strange world vastly different from Earth. Populated by creatures the ISMAT agents consider monsters with a lack of any sentience, Reede guides the audience through a large cast of different species and relationships. She draws from mythology and fairy tale lore, including all kinds of creatures, from dwarves to fearsome cyclops.
With four different narrators, keeping character voices distinct and individually engaging can be a challenge. Reede successfully offers a unique voice each time she shifts to a new point of view, keeping each chapter refreshing and exciting. There are times when this skill falls short, however. One of the four narrators, a resident of Ortharos named Winnalea, speaks in an older form of English. It's well-written and makes her chapters more interesting, but most of her chapters are used to provide short summaries of story events rather than move the plot along. There are a few other places where this happens with other narrators, but Winnalea's chapters are the only ones that are almost exclusively summarizations.
There are also several points throughout the novel where actions are over-explained, instead of allowing the reader to infer. It makes the prose awkward at times, slowing down the pace of the story and hanging up action-heavy scenes like battles or chases to explain minute details that can often be left unsaid. Other times, the tone of the prose comes off as overly casual and very passive. Zari Reede leaves little to the imagination of the audience. It's an interesting stylistic choice that may intrigue some readers while turning others away.
Blinked is a charmingly weird novel. Taking a place like New Orleans, rich in history, during such an iconic time of year as Mardi Gras, and seamlessly weaving a second, secret world into its history makes for an entertaining journey for readers. It ends with a bang, reminiscent of the high-energy, edge-of-your-seat battle with which the story began.
Quill says: Blinked is a fun, light read that is perfect for any reader who likes a little humor with their fantasy.