REVIEW: Bob the Wizard by M.V. Prindle

Bob the Wizard, the debut dark fantasy by M.V. Prindle, is a raucous ride featuring Robert Caplan, or Bob, as his friends know him. Bob is a chain-smoking recovering alcoholic, a foul-mouthed ex-garbage man from Texas who will stop at nothing to avenge his family’s death.

Bob the WizardThe novel opens with Bob in the aftermath of tragedy, his wife and son viciously murdered by a gray-skinned man known as Galvidon. Powered by nicotine and an unrelenting thirst for revenge, Bob chases the killer across the various worlds and slices of reality that make up the Astraverse, carrying nothing but a backpack, a pistol, and an enigmatic object called the Gatekey. This solar-powered Gatekey, which enables Bob’s world-hopping, had been gifted to him by a mysterious creature prior to his death. Somehow the Gatekey also seems to facilitate Bob’s communication with other intelligent beings wherever he goes.

While Bob the Wizard features a fun cast of side characters, Bob himself steals the show. Grimdark readers will appreciate the complexity of Bob’s character: he is a deeply flawed protagonist, fighting addiction and emotional trauma while on a monomaniacal quest for vengeance. However, despite his gruff and imposing exterior, Bob has a heart of gold and learns much about himself along the journey, discovering his own powers and reevaluating his priorities.

M.V. Prindle writes with heartfelt intensity and strikes a great balance of emotions throughout Bob the Wizard. There is sadness, hope, anger, and an abundance of laugh-out-loud humor. Although Bob the Wizard also features plenty of action, there were some pacing issues in the middle part of the book. I think the story could be streamlined a bit to help maintain a more consistent pacing throughout the novel.

M.V. Prindle’s layering of science fiction and fantasy elements in his worldbuilding is quite brilliant. Bob the Wizard takes the opposite approach of many other sci-fantasy novels, which often incorporate science fiction elements within a fantasy world. Prindle turns this inside-out in his debut, creating an entire fantasy world within a sci-fi multiverse framing device. The world features plenty of fantastical beasts and humanoid races, including faeries, blue elves, and lizard people. We also learn many details about the Astraverse itself, especially in the latter part of the novel.

Overall, Bob the Wizard is an exhilarating and wildly creative tale. M.V. Prindle is a natural storyteller, and I’m eager to see what his unbridled imagination will come up with next.

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John Mauro

John Mauro

John Mauro lives in a world of glass amongst the hills of central Pennsylvania. When not indulging in his passion for literature or enjoying time with family, John is training the next generation of materials scientists at Penn State University, where he teaches glass science and materials kinetics. John also loves cooking international cuisine and kayaking the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.