Title: The Watch – An Upfallers Story
Author: P.A. Western-Pittard
Publication Date: August 27, 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Humour, Contemporary
Length: 55 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 3 Stars
A Hilarious longish-short story adventure for fans of Terry Pratchett and lovers of quirky fantasy scifi.
In the Temple City of Tarn, no one and nothing is who they seem…
When Julian, a down-on-his-luck acolyte, comes across an ancient watch, he thinks this is exactly what he needs to solve his money problems. But Julian always was an optimistic dreamer. What begins as a seemingly simple stroke of luck soon turns into an adventure where he must find the impossible, or literally die trying.
But considering Julian isn’t much a fan of either dying or trying, this is going to turn out to be harder than he thought.
A longish-short story involving Soap-Bubble-Temples, a quest for ancient warbots and the meanest gunrunner in town, The Watch is a riotous introduction to the world of the Upfallers series.
The fewer assumptions you make about this novella, the better.
I appreciated the way the narrator repeatedly broke or reimagined many of the most popular tropes of the fantasy genre. Yes, the plot included a quest, but even there the author was discerning about what happened to his character and how they reacted to it. There were multiple times when I was fairly certain I knew what might happen next due to how long I’ve been reading this genre. In most cases, I was completely wrong in a pleasant way. This was my first time reading Mr. Western-Pittard‘s work, so I don’t have anything else to compare it to yet. What I can say is that I was impressed with how he approached the concept of contemporary fantasy, and I’m curious to see if his other works might do the same thing.
Even though the blurb interested me quite a bit, I struggled to remain engaged with the slow pacing of this novella. It spent so much time setting up Julian’s backstory and strengthening the world building that I wished for more action and conflict. This was a pattern that repeated itself after Julian’s adventures with the talking watch began. It read more like the first chapter of a book instead of a self-contained story. I don’t want to make any assumptions about why it was written this way, but the style did interfere with my desire to learn more.
What saved the storyline for me was the wry personality of the watch. If I had to assign a personality to such an item, I would have gone with something much more serious and academic because for some reason my brain assumes that something that was created to keep track of time would probably be staid in general. This is only loosely related to what the author actually came up with, of course, but it was delightful to see how creatively Mr. Western-Pittard approached character development. Playing around with the audience’s assumptions and expectations always grabs my attention, and this is even more true when it’s done as joyfully as it was done here.
This seems to be the introduction to a series, and I believe it is where readers are supposed to begin meeting the characters. I can’t say if the later instalments can be read out of order as I haven’t picked them up yet.
The Watch – An Upfallers Story is a good pick if you’re in the mood for something humorous.