Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium by Tom Hoffman is an expertly written, involving fantasy novel. It’s the fourth in a series about the Metaphysical Adventurer (a.k.a. world-hopping) Orville Wellington Mouse. Orville is a shaper, meaning he’s magically gifted, and when a highly interactive dream about a ghost and a book fair leaves him with an ancient text in a language no one can read, his sassy girlfriend Sophia and their loyal ally Proto launch on a quest to decode the book. The results uncover a long-lost piece of ancient history and when the adventurers enter the surreal world of Elysian in search of a friend’s long-lost wife, they take on the mysterious Shadow King, accompanied by an austere, weird monk who’s more than he seems. Will Orville be able to find reality and solve the puzzle of the Last Metaphonium?
Tom Hoffman is a truly talented author. His world is endlessly complex, varied, and filled with flights of fancy, yet completely true and simple as well. The characters ring with a deep, supple humanity, and I was captivated, wanting to know what would happen next. Suspense, comedy, mystery, adventure, romance—it’s all here. Orville’s delightful little quirks make him thoroughly well-rounded, and the underlying theme that love and honesty can overcome fears was handled as melodiously as the charming idea of the piano-like Metaphonium in which sets of keys provide portals to other worlds. Quiet side-kick Proto absolutely steals the show, his fears that he’s not loved and accepted threading a delicate subplot that is as poignant as it is satisfying. Verbally enchanting, emotionally human, and philosophically relevant, The Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium blends many genres into a really fun read.
This is the companion for Sarah Scheele's newsletter blog. In it I share reviews for books I'd recommend/are similar to my own.