TALES OF WONDER THE SAGA OF STICKITVILLE starts with protagonist William Cardoza, a.k.a. “Our Hero Billy” watching a van crash and barrel roll off the road. When he approaches to investigate, he finds the driver unconscious, along with a stash of drugs and cash. Things only get weirder from there.
The setting is Stickitville, located in the Rocky Mountains, “west of a delightful little hamlet known to many as Old Laffinatcha Meadow.” Laffinatcha, the narrator eventually explains, was named for King Letzal B. Laffinatcha of Finland, who came to the area in 1872 via hot air balloon and taught the “local ladies” the “art of yodeling.” The novel, which reads a lot like a collection of interconnected short stories, is full of hilarious and odd digressions like these, as its folksy narrator ambles from one subject or character to the next before circling back to the main plot sometimes dozens of pages later.
What there is of a plot revolves around the cash and drugs Our Hero Billy discovers at the beginning of the story, but also the friendships, romances, and criminal behavior of the citizens of Stickitville as they go about preparing for and conducting their annual Yucca Days Festival, with its trademark Barbecue Cook-Off Contest, and the Rowdy Rodeo Days Extravaganza, which includes a parade momentarily thrown off track by the denizens of Old Laffinatcha attempting to steal Stickitville’s thunder by firing the cannon of an old German Panzer tank. Does the story make sense? Not always. Is it entertaining? Absolutely.
In addition to his keen sense of humor, author Richard Wyly is skilled at providing just the right descriptive touches to bring his characters (and their town) to life. This involves a fair amount of seemingly extraneous details, particularly with regard to attire. One character, for example, wears “your basic white all-cotton and lycra-stretch blend, spandex one-piece jumpsuit” complete with fringed epaulettes. Sometimes, this wealth of minutiae threatens to derail the plot or simply becomes tedious. (Is it really necessary to know what kind of lunch special the Boogie Woogie Burger Bar was serving on the day of the Rowdy Rodeo Days Extravaganza?) However, Wyly hits the right note more than he misses.
TALES OF WONDER THE SAGA OF STICKITVILLE is a hilarious farce set in a small town populated by a delightful cast of weirdos. Though its central mystery sometimes gets lost in the kerfuffle, the sheer absurdity will keep readers turning the pages.
~Lisa Butts for IndieReader