Trap Me!: Finally, a Happy Gay Furry Adventure – book review by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Trap Me!: Finally, a Happy Gay Furry Adventure, by Chris and Cooper Elkin. Illustrated by Cooper Elkin.
[?] November 2014, trade paperback, $14.88 (304 pages), Kindle $8.44.
“An Unforgettable Adventure Through a Steampunk World! Follow two furries in their quest for a mysterious artifact.”
“That looked like it hurt. The shattered glass reflected the sunlight and swung it into a gentle dance on the wooden floor of the attic. The still-startled Aidan Prowl, a canine in his right mind (sometimes), blinked twice and then cleared his throat.
‘Oh, please… do come in,’ he said to the stranger who was slowly getting himself together and stood up as bits and shards fell off him. At first glance, it seemed to be a long-eared feline, wearing a black, short leather jacket over his white shirt, which was complimented by his navy blue scarf and trousers. The rosewood fur was ruffled here and there and his charcoal hair was a mess.
‘Some of us prefer to use the door. Then again, I suppose it is a little bit late for that now,’ the canine added dryly.” (p. 5)
The setting is a Steampunk world of anthropomorphic animals. Aidan Prowl, a young canine pianist with dark golden brown hair and viridian green fur who lives with his mother, is startled when Zackary Pace, a black-haired, rosewood-furred feline, crashes through his attic window. Zack, the son of Rhodworth’s leading blacksmith, has been working on a secret invention, which causes the aerial crash.
Aidan is more adventurous than his pianist nature suggests. He has been creating new musical instruments and experimenting with new sounds. He is also looking for rare musical instruments that may or may not exist. When Zack cannot pay for a unique crystal statuette that was broken in his crash, Aidan proposes a solution:
“He walked towards the map that was hanging on the wall, placing a paw upon it, followed by Zack’ curious gaze. ‘I’m looking for something. It’s a rather special piece of craftsmanship that many deemed to be, well… let’s just say that not many think it actually exists.’ He turned towards the feline. ‘It’s a spherical object, like an orb, made out of a strange material – no one really knows how it looks precisely – and it’s supposed to be very valuable.’
‘Okaaay,’ replied Zack, cautiously.
The canine grabbed what seemed to be the only book from the bookshelves that didn’t have a thick layer of dust over it. He opened it and showed Zack the pictures inside, schematics and representations of various theories regarding the Orb. The pages were old and yellowed, but the covers had metallic edges, making it look like a collector’s item rather than a common library book. ‘I won’t bore you with details and such, all you need to know is that, if we find it, it will create a new chapter in history! The world will see that the legends are more than just –.’” (pgs. 15-16)
Aidan wants Zack to be his assistant in finding the Orb, in return for forgetting about the shattered statuette. Zack is reluctant, especially when Aidan’s description advances from a simple search of a couple of days to an adventure, an expedition, an epic quest! But Zack doesn’t want to answer any questions about his crash, so he agrees despite his misgivings.
The novel is the story of the teenagers’ “simple search” that leads to a metal mountain, a train robbery, an Underground City, and more. Aidan and Zack are the stereotypical Odd Couple; Aidan running off after some risky clue with Zack trailing along, muttering that he must be suicidal to follow such a harebrained scheme. And with Tara Beaudefire, a hot-headed young vixen policewoman, after both of them at first, only to become their willing partner. Both Zack and the reader suspect that Aidan is making it all up as they go along, so there’s little point in asking what they’re supposed to do next. But you can be sure that it’ll be both foolhardy and exciting.
The adventure is a lot of fun, but the writing shows plenty of rough edges that should get polished with experience. There is too much flowery background. For example, here is one aspect of their steampunk world:
“Before the feline could react, Aidan was already at the steamcycle. It had a strangely oval form, black, with a rectangular glass panel right in the middle of it, to show off the intricate small pipes that ran along its body. Simple in design, it could reach high speeds and was mostly used by AGs [Armed Gentlefurs; this society’s police] for official situations, including parades, due to its slick allure. It looked more like a heavy, complex bicycle hooked to a steam-based engine.” (p. 100)
Or here are Aidan and Zack breaking into a library at night:
“During the day, the Library was superbly lit by the sunlight, yet at night the large glass dome above it sprinkled the moonlight all over the place, drowning it in blue shades and dark glitters, with a tint of reddish glows here and there. The smell of books and rolls of old parchments filled the air as rows and rows of bookcases formed concentric circles within the main room. A mahogany desk, a large one at that, sat at the center of it all like a heavy, wooden throne, making the entire place look majestic. Almost like a forgotten king’s ballroom.” (p. 88)
It’s all rich detail that increases the portrait of this world, but it keeps slowing the action to a crawl. And “concentric circles”? At least one of the Elkins has a fondness for alliterative redundancy, like the “papery wallpaper” on page 33. They also occasionally use words in unusual ways, such as the description of Zack’s mother who also has red fur:
“Agatha had a dark red color surprising every little bit of her body.” (p. 26)
A plus: the frequent and imaginative use of “fur”, “paw”, and species’ names: “placing a paw on it”, “Lamp in paw”, “The canine nodded in reply”, “the feline exited the big marketplace”, “Nofur knew”, “a very sleepy feline’s muzzle”, “the dark gray fur said, nodding”, “the red rabbit continued”, “he had heard other furs talking”.
A minus: the annoying use of accents: “Maybe next time, ya can greet yer friends in person, hm?”
Another plus: the use of italics to enhance speech: “The fox turned to him, signaling Aidan to shut up. ‘Where the hell have you been?!’”
Another minus: Cooper Elkin’s very amateurish artwork. It’s good in being quite clear, but considering how much the Elkins must have paid to get Trap Me! vol. 1 published, they should have spent a bit more to have a professional artist turn his layouts into more attractive illustrations.
A mystery: there is no indication of the publisher in the book. The Elkins say on their online blog that it’s CreateSpace, but this doesn’t look like any CreateSpace book that I’ve ever seen. They also say that they live in Europe, and this looks more like an Eastern European book. The typeface is more suited for decorative headings than for a whole book. It’s not bad, but it certainly looks different. (This is regarding the paperback. The Kindle version looks 100% American.)
Oh, yeah; about that “Happy Gay Furry Adventure”. Okay, Aidan and Zack do become gay lovers, but it’s all in very good taste; PG-rated even. Trap Me! ends with a satisfying conclusion. This may be #1 in a series, but apparently future adventures will be completely separate. According to the Elkins’ blog, they are already several chapters into Trap Me! 2, and are developing a Trap Me! video game. Recommended.