REVIEW: “Mythicals” by Dennis Meredith

MythicalsI love a good sci-fi book, that much is well known. But what about a sci-fi book that puts forth the idea that all the mythological creatures from Earth’s history (fairies, pixies, werewolves, vampires, etc) are actually alien species exiled to our planet as punishment for crimes made on their own planets? Well, a book like that would be right up my wheelhouse. That’s exactly the kind of book that Dennis Meredith’s Mythicals is. It’s also a very good one, too.

Drunken journalist Jack March can’t believe his bleary eyes when he stumbles onto a winged fairy! She vaults away into the night sky, and his unbelievable—and unbelieved—encounter leads to a stunning revelation that all the creatures of myth and legend are real!
Fairies, pixies, trolls, werewolves, ogres, vampires, angels, elves, bigfoot—all are alien exiles to the planet. For their crimes, these “mythicals” are serving out banishment disguised in flesh-suits enabling them to live among the planet’s natives.
Jack reveals their secret to the world, along with a horrendous discovery: they have decided that the native “terminal species” must be eradicated before it ruins its home planet’s ecology.
In this riveting scifi/fairy tale, Jack joins with sympathetic fairies, pixies, and ogres to attempt to save the planet from the mythicals, as well as the mysterious alien cabal known as the Pilgrims.

Mythicals is a delightful book that starts out seeming like it’s going to be more of a political thriller (involving mythological creatures) that ends up becoming something more epic than that. And it really works. There is honestly no reason for this book to work as well as it does. I mean, it’s the kind of premise that seems sort of absurd, but it’s one that is just so sci-fi that I can’t believe this isn’t something we see more often. There’s something undeniably fun about this book. It starts off a little slowly as all the various pieces are moved into place, but once the story really gets going, it quickly becomes a page-turner that you really don’t want to put down. It starts off seeming like Jack is going to spend most of the book trying to prove that these Mythicals exist, but by about the 1/4 mark, that all changes into a different plotline that later morphs into another one. Each plot is well-developed and well-concluded and it’s all a very satisfying read.

Mythicals is written by Dennis Meredith, a “science communicator” who has worked with a number of universities and has published a number of nonfiction books about science in addition to his work as a novelist. You can kind of tell that Meredith comes from more of a science background in the way he’s written this book, and I mean that as a good thing! This world of this book has clearly been meticulously plotted out by Meredith and he does an excellent job at explaining all the various elements of the world to his readers without descending completely into sci-fi jargon. This world makes sense. Yes, it’s foreign and magical and there are a lot of aliens and a lot of futuristic technology, but Meredith explains it in such a way that it all seems totally believable and mundane. Not much time is spent on characters reacting wildly to it; they get a moment of surprise and then the novel moves on with it. It’s all handled very well.

The story itself is also thoroughly entertaining. It tackles a number of subjects – primarily climate change and the impacts we are having on our global environment – with a surprising amount of poise and nuance for a book that seemed, on the surface, to be a kind of b-film romp of a sci-fi book. I was not expecting these deeply important issues to be such a focus in this book. That’s not to say that it’s a preachy story; it’s not. There’s plenty of fighting between the Mythicals and world building and fun, sci-fi goodies. But it’s always nice when sci-fi books have something to say and it’s clear that Mythicals had a lot to say.

As I mentioned early, the book is plotted very well. I must commend Mr. Meredith for how well-paced this story is. There are a lot of characters in this novel, and, while it does occasionally feel overwhelming, he’s able to juggle all those characters with immense talent and care, ensuring that each of our main characters has some kind of arc and journey to go on. Jack is, for all intents and purposes, our main character, but the Mythicals that end up surrounding him are just as well-developed as he is. And, let me tell you, Jack is very well-developed. I started out the book thoroughly disliking his character, and by the end of it, I truly adored him. There’s an excellent twist involving his character that happens about 2/3 through the novel, and it honestly flips everything on its head in the best possible way. It’s the kind of twist that makes perfect sense while still being totally surprising and I love it.

All in all, Mythicals is an excellent book. It’s got a great premise that’s explored masterfully by an author who clearly put a lot of time into developing it. It features characters that are interesting and well-developed. It focuses on some important issues currently plaguing our society, and actually has something to say about them. It’s well-written and well-paced and is a thoroughly enjoying read that I would recommend to anybody who’s a fan of sci-fi or fantasy. You won’t be disappointed by this book.

4.5 out of 5 wands

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