Reviewed by Sarah Scheele for Readers' Favorite
Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium by Tom Hoffman is an expertly written fantasy novel. It’s the fourth in a series about the Metaphysical Adventurer (a.k.a. world-hopping) Orville Wellington Mouse. Orville is a shaper, meaning he’s magically gifted, and when a highly interactive dream about a ghost and a book fair leaves him with a weird book in a language no one can read, his sassy girlfriend, Sophia, and their loyal ally, Proto, join him on a quest to decode the book. The results uncover a long-lost piece of ancient history and when the adventurers enter the surreal world of Elysian in search of a friend’s long-lost wife, they take on the mysterious Shadow King, accompanied by an austere monk who’s more than he seems. Will Orville be able to find reality and solve the puzzle of the Last Metaphonium?
Tom Hoffman is a delight to read. His world is endlessly complex, varied, and filled with flights of fancy, yet completely true and simple as well. The characters ring with a deep, supple humanity, and I was captivated, wanting to know what would happen next. Action, comedy, mystery, adventure, romance—it’s all here. Orville’s many little quirks make him thoroughly well-rounded, and the underlying theme that love and honesty can overcome fears was handled as melodiously as the concept of the piano-like Metaphonium, in which sets of keys provide portals to other worlds. Quiet sidekick Proto absolutely steals the show, his fears that he’s not loved and accepted threading a delicate subplot that is as poignant as it is satisfying. Verbally enchanting, emotionally human, and philosophically relevant, The Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium blends many genres into a really fun read.