by Platte F. Clark
Recommended Ages: 12+
Max learns all this from a book that apparently only he can read - or even touch without receiving a painful electric shock - written by the world-sundering arch-sorcerer himself, Maximilian Sporazo. This apparently means Max is a blood descendant of Sporazo. Because of that, before he knows it, he's a wanted boy - wanted by the Maelshadow, the dark lord of the Shadrus; wanted by the ambitious arch-mage Rezormoor Dreadbringer; wanted, most urgently, by a unicorn named Princess. Don't let her pink sparkly mane fool you; Princess (surnamed "the Destroyer") is a vicious monster with a taste for human flesh. She can't wait to get her hooves on Max, because once she does, Rezormoor has promised to let her feast on the people of Texas.
Luckily, just when Princess and her glum personal wizard arrive in Madison, Max has inadvertently set off a spell launching himself, his dorky best friend Dirk, a girl warrior named Sarah, and an outcast dwarf named Dwight 300 years into the future. Unluckily, his departure from the present has altered history, resulting in a future where machines have taken over the world, humanity is extinct, and immortal robot versions of Princess and her henchwizard command an audience of millions in a nightly, televised hunt of the most helpless creatures in all three realms, frobbits. Yes, frobbits, fantasy fans: big eared, hairy footed little people who are really, really bad at fleeing from predators and even worse at fighting back. Now the survival of humans, dwarves, and dragons - I didn't mention dragons, did I? - depend on Sarah training an army of frobbits and snow fairies to fight against mechanized hunters, and on Max figuring out how to master the magic in a book that sometimes would rather talk about its theory that squirrels are taking over the world.
This is the first book of the "Bad Unicorn" trilogy, which continues in Fluff Dragon and Good Ogre, by an author who lives in Utah with his wife and seven kids. Judging by this book, that must be a really interesting household to live in. It's a hilarious, off-the-wall book full of irreverent fantasy and gaming in-references, endearingly goofy character portraits, and the under-utilized type of comedy that finds humor in the juxtaposition of timeless magic with banal reality. It mentions the Inn of the Flatulent Orc, a batch of evil apple fritters, and a game that robs its players of their reason (oddly resembling golf). It takes satirical shots at several recent Disney animated features. And it demonstrates, on practically every page, how a unicorn gone bad can be a threat to everyone and everything. Read at your own risk - of splitting a gut laughing.