#SPFBO The Purple Haze (The Western Lands and All That Really Matters, #1) by Andrew Einspruch

purplehazeThe Purple Haze was one of the nine books that I rolled forward and read completely as part of the first stage of the SPFBO competition.  This is a YA read that is fun, quirky and quite charming.

As the story begins we meet Eloise, Eloise is heir to the throne of the Western Lands and All That Really Matters and she finds herself with the unusual predicament of being offered the hand in marriage of her childhood friend Jerome, the Chipmunk. Not wanting to upset Jerome’s mother, a powerful seer, but at the same time not really thinking a marriage between a chipmunk and a human is truly viable, Eloise comes up with an alternative suggestion, to appoint Jerome as her Champion (not to be confused with champignon!)  I would say that this opening sequence pretty much sets out the stall for the tone of the book which involves a good deal of fun and a crazy adventure.

The main thrust of the story revolves around the kidnapping of Eloise’s twin sister, the spare to the heir.  But for a few minutes and random chance Johanna would be the future heir, the rivalry between the two acts as a barrier between the two forming a friendship, that is until Johanna is taken by her uncle who has hatched a nefarious plot to marry his niece in a bid to have more power and Eloise realises she’s closer to her sister than she realised and steps up to rescue her.  From here there are plenty of  unusual capers that seem to lead down one false trail after another.

The title of the book refers to a strange purple haze that covers part of the country providing a division between the different realms.  Very little is known about the whys and wherefores of this strange and rather dense like fog – people who go into the haze never return to tell tales and in fact it is used in some places as a punishment for criminals!

I liked Eloise, she has a good personality and is a snowball character in that she seems to gather others to her plight ensuring that we have an entertaining group to read about along the way.  She’s also resourceful and doesn’t panic in an emergency.  She can be terribly proper but also kind and thoughtful.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t have anything major.  I think the style of this might not work for everyone, it meanders and ducks and dithers somewhat and it involves a lot of humour and puns along the way.  I like the style and actually think it takes a lot of skill to write a novel of this nature but at the same time I recognise that this particular brand of crazy might not be for everyone.   I’m also not sure how viable it is to send off the heir to the throne in search of her sister – I mean effectively this means both children are now out there in the wilds with the potential to not return should all go awry. So, no heir and no spare!

Think Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz.  An unusual world with oddball characters, magic and all sorts of talking animals.  This is a lovely, charming read that ends on a note that makes me want to read more.  It’s a journey – not just a physical journey but a coming of age style story in which Eloise comes into her own.

My rating would be 3.5 of 5 stars.



#SPFBO 2018 Book Teaser: The Purple Haze by Andrew Einspruch


As part of the SPFBO (details here) I’ve invited all the authors from my batch to visit my blog.  The Purple Haze by Andrew Einspruch is one of the books from my first batch of books and at the moment is still in the running.  Below is an excerpt from the book (reproduced here with the author’s permission of course).  Check out Chapter 1 and see if it whets your appetite.  I think this has a wonderful cheeky sense of humour that I’m really enjoying so far:


Chapter One – THE PROPOSAL

“Please, please, marry my son,” implored the chipmunk.

Princess Eloise Hydra Gumball III, Future Ruler and Heir to the Western Lands and All That Really Matters, sat on the Listening Throne in the ornate Receiving Room of Castle de Brague and took two precise sips of her haggleberry tea, trying not to let her surprise show.  She straightened, still holding the cup and saucer.  “I… I… Truly, Seer Maybelle? Jerome?”

Seer Maybelle de Chipmunk’s delicate whiskers drooped, and Eloise worried she’d been too harsh.  “Yes, Princess,” she said.  “Jerome,”

“Goodness.”  Eloise sipped again, buying a moment.  “I haven’t really thought about marriage much, but if I may so, I rather thought I’d end up with a prince of some description.  You know, someone more in the direction of a human, perhaps? But, please. I’m happy to hear you out.”

The chipmunk clasped her dainty paws in front of her and began an obviously well-rehearsed plea.  “My son, Jerome Abernatheen de Chipmunk, is a good boy, as you well know.  And believe me, I am aware of his flaws as only a mother can be.”  She extended her claws to enumerate.  “He’s forgetful.  He’s awkward in small groups.  He’s awkward in large groups.  He’s prone to wafting off into the La La Realms.  His dress sense veers unpredictably and inexplicably from one garish colour to another.  He knows far, far too much about the musical plays of Lyndia Thrind.  He has a penchant for babbling about nothing when stressed.  Then there’s the whole unfortunate thing with jesters.”

Eloise nodded.  Twice.  “One cannot characterize that description as unfair, Seer Maybelle.”

“But Princess Eloise, I’ve searched the future with every tool I have, methods common and obscure, profound and profane, some passed down from my grandmothers a hundred generations removed.  I have stared into the flame of the Burning Fungus, scanned dregs of haggleberry tea, and listened to the sounds of the Oracle Bellbirds.  I’ve drawn the Twigs of Fate from the Bag of Kismet and sought wisdom in the gurgling mud of the Elder’s Swamp.  It embarrasses me to tell you, because it took a week to get the stench out of my fur, but I’ve taken counsel with Gordon the Noisome, whose twitching earlobes have a strangely accurate predictive quality.”

Gordon the Noisome?  Wow.  Seer Maybelle was serious about this.  Standing close enough to Gordon to see his earlobes twitch was a sacrifice no one should have to make.

“Everywhere I look Princess, I see that my son’s destiny is to be by your side.  I’m, I’m…”  Seer Maybelle’s voice slid down to a whisper.  “I’m sorry, but I believe you must wed.”

Eloise took another sip of her tea, then set down the cup.  The saucer clinked on the marble side table, which matched the marble walls of the Receiving Room.  Eloise carefully moved the cup and saucer so they were in the exact middle of the table on a serviette whose edges were equidistant from the table’s.  She placed the spoon on the saucer so it lined up with the serviette and the table.  She would rather have put it across the top of the cup, but that would be taking it too far, given that Seer Maybelle was with her.

Until three years before, when Court began demanding so much of her time, Jerome had been her best friend.  For a decade, they’d been inseparable, whether exploding whifflenut pies in Cookery and Cuisine class (which she enjoyed despite the mess), plotting paint dart campaigns in Weapons and Stratagems (also fun despite potential mess), ridiculing each other’s poetry in Arts and Elocution, or creating the most elaborate contraptions in Engineering and Constructions.  Inseparable, until court life had done the inevitable – separated them.

Eloise understood Jerome like few did.  He was a klutz.  A clever klutz.  A verbose klutz.  A well-read, musically literate, historically curious klutz.  But definitely a klutz.  She loved him, klutziness and all, but like a brother and nothing else.  Even ignoring matters of species, marrying him was out of the question.  That’s just not what she felt for him.

The problem was Seer Maybelle de Chipmunk.

Seer de Chipmunk was the Western Lands’ visionary.  There was never, ever any escaping what the matronly chipmunk foretold.  But if Eloise had learned anything in Oracles and Insights (other than that Jerome showed not the slightest hint of divinatory talent, despite his family line), it was that there was always another interpretation, another angle.

Seer Maybelle shifted from foot to foot.  It was difficult for her to stand like this for so long, but pride and Protocol demanded it.  With a quiet rasp, she cleared her throat, preparing to sell, somehow, what was ridiculously unsellable.  Her son, short, nervous, and – there was no escaping it – a chipmunk, was completely unsuited to the willowy, athletic, 16-year-old, dark-haired and darker-eyed human.  Seer Maybelle opened her mouth, but Eloise held up a finger and stopped her.

“I have an idea.”

“Yes, Princess Eloise?”

“I shall name Jerome Abernatheen de Chipmunk my champion.”

Seer Maybelle stood gape-mouthed, then closed her eyes and scanned the Unseen.  When she opened them again, she graced Princess Eloise with a radiant chipmunk smile.  She nodded, amazed that such insight could come, once again, from someone so young.

Mrs de Chipmunk left the Receiving Room lighter of heart than she’d felt in weeks.

Eloise draped the Attention Cape over the back of the Listening Throne and wondered how in the name of Calaht she would ever convince her parents to allow her decision.


That was the first chapter of The Purple Haze.  What do you make of the style?