Kirsten Reviews: Pile of Bones by Bailey Cunningham
Pile of Bones by Bailey Cunningham
Parallel Parks #1
In one world, they’re ordinary university students. In another world, they are a company of heroes in a place of magic and myth called Anfractus … The Cree called the area Oscana, "pile of bones," a fertile hunting ground where game abounded. The white settlers changed that to Wascana. And centuries later, it became Wascana Park, a wooded retreat in the midst of the urban sprawl of Regina. For a select few, who stay in the park until midnight, the land reverts into a magical kingdom, populated by heroes and monsters. They become warriors, bards, archers, gladiators. In the city called Anfractus, they live out a real-life role playing game. All harmless fun—until they find themselves in the middle of an assassination plot which threatens to upset the balance of everything. Politics are changing, and old borders are about to disappear. The magic of Anfractus is bleeding into the real world—an incursion far more dangerous than the students suspect. Only they know what is happening—and only they can stop it...
Pile of Bones by Bailey Cunningham offers an interesting premise for anybody who spends their time grading essays and also enjoys playing D&D or other role playing games. Four TAs (teachers assistant), Andrew, Shelby and Carl spend their days dealing with school-related matters, but there's something beyond their routines that promises entertainment and magic.
Wascana Park was once a hunting ground for the Cree, which they called Oscana or 'pile of bones.' Now the park is a place where, at midnight, a transformation occurs, and Wascana becomes a kingdom. Anyone who remains in the park has the opportunity to become a bard, archer, warrior, or take on other personae in a city called Anfractus. Inside the city, these TAs have new names and lives, allowing them to get away from their responsibilities, or so they think.
While taking on another life is at first fun, fairly soon they are embroiled in an assassination plot, political maneuvering and on top of that, the city of Anfractus is literally bleeding magic into the ‘real world,’ and this has dire consequences.
As the first book in any new series, Pile of Bones has to both introduce a world and a large amount of lore in a relatively short amount of time. The change in names from one world to another may be confusing to some people and there is also a large amount of vocabulary for readers to get their heads around.
With the two worlds, there should be some clear rules about how things operate in each realm, but at times this becomes cloudy, and it’s hard to tell what’s supposed to be going on, or if there’s a rule that hasn’t been explained well enough, or something is just a plothole.
With urban fantasy, there’s usually some kind of romantic element, and in Pile of Bones, there is definitely some of that as the plot moves forward. All of the students seem to be trying to find romance in this world or Anfractus, but at times, both their romance and their motives are too murky to figure out out.
Of all the points of view offered by the author, Carl and Shelby are the most entertaining, while Andrew is kind of boring, and once readers get past his section of the book, the action and storyline pick up noticeably. The book ends rather abruptly, and feels like it should have more resolution on several points. Hopefully these issues will be addressed and any sequels more well-structured to expand on the rules of Anfractus as well as the effect these events have had on the real world.