There is no magic in the medieval, made-up land of Cornucopia unless you consider the mellow narration of Rowling that in itself is at once a sheer delight and pure magic.
The story starts with a note of happiness and prosperity as the land of Cornucopia is described as the land aplenty with Chouxville (pronounced Shoe-ville), famous for their pastries (a choux is a type of pastry). Baronstown, the city of sausages and hams, and Kurdsburg, which produces the finest cheeses. The last city of note is Jeroboam, which makes of course, the finest wines in the land. While the entire nation is the envy of neighbouring lands for its finest produces, the Marshlands beyond Jeroboam is both the source of mystique and the cause of much misery in the latter half of the story.
Though The Ickabog is written as a fairytale, there is an odd sense of deja vu while reading the book both in relation to the current political trends across the world and also strangely reminded me of a little known book that I had come across which was yet another fairytale called The Eyes of the Dragon. The stories are dissimilar except for the fact that they both seek to be the in same domain of fairy tales and yet, the caricature of Daisy Dovetail strongly reminded me of Prince Peter in Stephen King’s The Eyes of the Dragon, both for their empathy, kindness towards the less fortunate and a certain ability to overcome the odds.
While I am sure most of us had lots of fun googling the meaning of Ickabog in the lead up to the release of the book, Rowling has as usual trumped us all in the imagery and the vividness of the Ickabog when the book was published. The twitterati went bonkers imagining the pronunciation of the Ickabog before the book was published and there was of course, Rowling’s invitation to children to put forth their imagining of the character in a drawing.
The titular character of the Ickabog makes an appearance in the second part and what I particularly enjoyed about it’s description is the novel idea of a sexless, altruistic parent Icker nurturing its pregnancy knowing full well that the birth of Ickaboggles is its end. Not unlike Stephanie Meyer’s description of the alien host Wanda’s reproductive abilities though in a completely different world and in a different setting.
The villiany of lords Spittleworth and Flapoon are less the all encompassing evil of Lord Voldemort and more in the league of the power that a pair of greedy aristocrats might enforce over a weak and easily led king.
In conclusion, given Rowling’s masterful gift of storytelling, its but to be as expected, a compelling read.
Genre: Fairy tale
Author: JK Rowling