Gaspar and the Fantastical Hats

Written by David A. Lindsay

Illustrated by Pilich

GasparHats,pic

This fantasy novella just short of one hundred pages is set in medieval times amidst dark alleys, cobblestone streets, a wizard’s den and raucous taverns. Gaspar has just spent the night at one of his favorite haunts, The Bag O’Silver Inn where he could pick up gossip on who to target and who was after him. Shortly after, two assassins named Sloat and Weasel confront him in a dark alleyway. An unknown intruder saves his life.

The Council of Guild Masters run the city. These guilds are arranged in a hierarchy of power. Strangely enough the City did function. The wizards had a monopoly of magical artifacts. Gaspar is a petty thief who is a freelancer not a member of any guild. How does he get involved in a dangerous caper? The women of the Merchant’s Quarter had taken a liking to wearing hats that were decorated with magical objects. Some of the wizards began taking bribes, while the milliners took advantage of the fad. Eventually magical artifacts became scarce. Gaspar is enlisted to steal a magical artifact for one such hat. His friend, Hubris, the Spell-broker is recruited separately to steal another. They break into the Wizard’s Hall where they are confronted with a golem, a giant living stone statue. Both thieves must steal an artifact and successfully escape the golem. These partners will discover that appearances are deceiving; the plot twists and turns to reveal new deceptions, and the reader does not foresee the conclusion.

The characters are interesting and the plot well developed in this novella even though the sentence descriptions can be wordy at times. The combination of fashion, mystery, adventure and intrigue are nicely balanced in the right amount for a middle grade reader that will appeal to boys and girls. The golem’s riddles are a nice touch; they will encourage young readers to ponder and philosophize This book can easily be read in a couple of hours or broken up into sections for discussion as a class read aloud.

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