Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Review: Small World by Tabitha King

Small World
SMALL WORLD by Tabitha King - Cover Image
Tabitha King

Dorothy Hardesty Douglas (AKA Dolly) is the daughter of the former President of the United States, and so it is no surprise that she holds a certain fondness for the White House, even in middle age. She's so fond of it, in fact, that she has paid a small fortune in manufacturing and furnishing costs for a miniature scale model, known in the press as the Doll's White House. It has everything one might expect to find in the real McCoy, adorned with historically accurate meticulous detail. Everything, that is, except for someone to live in it.

Enter Roger Tinker, disgruntled scientist formerly in the employ of the United States government, who has secretly developed what he has dubbed "the minimizer", a camera-shaped shrinking ray. Just point, click and...ta-da: an instant miniature instead of a tired old photograph. Roger and Dolly strike up a rather strange love affair and then embark on a crime spree, shrinking and stealing anything that catches their fancy. Including Leyna Shaw, television newscaster and longtime rival of Dolly's.

Some leeway must be given to the author here. It was her first novel, after all, and so a finely developed style and sense of storytelling was not yet developed. And, it can't be easy trying to write these types of stories with the surname of King--how do you compete when you're married to Stephen? But despite the leeway we're offering here, and the general competency of the writing, the basic premise (shrinking your enemies and forcing them to live in your dollhouse) is so ridiculous that it's nearly impossible to suspend disbelief and enjoy the story.

Although Peter Straub (the penultimate horror-hipster, and an author I have only the utmost respect for) says on a cover blurb that "Small World is so clever it could cut your skin" and throws around words like 'suspense' and 'grotesque', I found very few instances of that upon the pages. Sadly, Small World is less The Incredible Shrinking Man and more Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

The best you can hope for here is a paper cut.

Better luck next time, Tabitha.


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