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Reviewed by Raanan Geberer for Readers' Favorite
Welcome to the Commons or, as some might, call it, Purgatory. In The Journeyman by Michael Alan Peck, it’s a land where, in the Beatles’ words, “nothing is real,” and where a talking mummy, a man with a slot-machine handle for an arm and a woman with zebra stripes and a tail are just “everyday people”. At the beginning of the book, we meet Paul, a young man with a troubled past who lives in a group home in New York City. After Paul loses his life in a fight, he finds himself on a bus with people he doesn’t know, including a young mother and her autistic son. As the bus ride progresses, Paul and his companions find themselves under attack by a group of warriors known as the Ravagers. However, Paul is saved by a kindly man named Porter. Porter tells Paul that he is an Envoy, or someone who guides new arrivals on their journey through the Commons, but their journey is in danger every minute because of the Ravagers and their evil mastermind, whose goal it is to leech the vital “essence” of every new arrival and use it for his own purposes.
The Journeyman is a fantasy book, but it’s also a work of humor. Many of the strange creatures you’ll meet in the book may be frightening, but they’re also very entertaining. Author Michael Alan Peck also portrays human emotions vividly, especially in the struggle of the young mother, Annie, to find her son, Zach, from whom she has been separated. The book is well-written using short sentences and paragraphs without a lot of unnecessary description. I hope it’s a long time before I get to “the Commons” but if that’s where I’m going, I’d definitely want The Commons: The Journey Begins as a guide.