Stanley Polinsky carries a Tom Swift novel in his pack as he marches trough war-torn WII Europe with his companion, Calvin Johnson who constantly ribs him about it. Carrying a book, while simultaneously engaged in combat with the Nazi seems absurd.
When Stanley explains that the book was read to him as a child, and it’s about a magical item called The alamantium lamp, an invention that can raise the dead and heal any wound, the Tom Swift novel within this novel reveals itself, and serves as an anchor for this wonderfully written, story about immortality granted by ingestion of a magical lightning struck herb.
After a landmine explodes in the early pages of the book, mortally wounding a soldier, the herb is ingested, and a chain of events is set off, each event more perfectly outlandish than the last.
Absurd. Magic. Adventure. Time spanning. Epic. Me likey.
Jen Michalski has constructed a wonderful world here, that is equal parts magical adventure and beautifully written examination of love, loss and what it means to have a life that can or can’t end.
I enjoyed Michalski’s back to back novella collection Could You Be With Her Now, and am very impressed by her range as a writer, from the 1st person POV of “I Can Make it to California by Dinnertime” where she writes as a mentally challenged boy, to the accompanying novella in the collection “May-September” where the narrator is a twenty something girl engaged in a relationship with a woman pushing seventy. Tide King is written in third person and recalls the best elements of fairy tale, literary fiction, and even, Tom Swift.