Wild Court, by Matthew Samuels
When I was asked to be part of my first Blog Tour, I was intrigued. I’d seen these in the past, but never participated. What would the surprise book be? Would it be any good? What if it wasn’t?!
I had no need to worry.
Wild Court is a clever, fun and satisfyingly deep adventure, which might seem at first to be ‘What if Spaced-era Simon Pegg and Nick Frost adapted Rivers of London’ - but while the humour is a constant (and the pop-culture references might date the book), the intensity of the story ramps up as the story moves forward. We see the humanity and layers of characters who are far from two-dimensional, and genuinely wonder how the heck two regular Londoners will save the day.
Ben is a kind librarian. His friend Matt is a foul-mouthed Lad. Both find themselves recruited by the Wild Court, an undercover organisation that works to keep monsters under control in London and the wider UK.
So far, so urban fantasy, but these chaps aren’t ‘chosen ones’ or typical heroes. They are very much regular guys.
Therein lay the enjoyment for me. Ben is bookish and terrified when the Stuff hits the fan (understandably!), Matt is annoying and I absolutely would not let him buy me a drink. Their journeys through the book are wonderful to witness, as they dig deep to find their inner humanity and determination.
Because monsters are unleashed upon the land. A Big Bad attacks before our heroes are even slightly ready to face it, but guided by a cynical teacher pulled out of retirement and a mysterious wise-woman (and their shared teenage history playing D&D), face it they must.
There’s also an adjacent plot with Alice, a possibly-autistic archaeologist working for a rich benefactor in search of what may or may not be magical artifacts. Probably the worst companion for Ben and Matt, but her perspective as they work together is interesting.
The golden core of this book is how the characters inspire us to see the potential in any everyday person. No matter your history or hang-ups, these unlikely protagonists become heroes.
If you want a genuinely fun and touching adventure, pick this up.