Mysterious Aisles

Mysterious Aisles

Series: The South Hertling Chronicles #1
Setting: Australia
Genres: Science Fiction
Published on November 16, 2022
Format: eBook Source: Owned
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Axel Platzoff does not work at the Handy Pavilion by choice. Stacking shelves seemed beneath the former supervillain who had come close to world domination so many times. But as part of his plea deal with the Hague, Axel had to work somewhere, so he worked at the big-box hardware store in the sleepy Australian suburb of South Hertling. Fortunately, he is not the only eccentric employee of the place. Other Pavilionites come from backgrounds almost as strange as Axel's. There are cyborgs, ape-men, ghosts, and assistant managers; dryads, time-travellers, demigods and school leavers. Finally, Axel feels at home.

Then, tragedy strikes. The construction of a rival hardware store, just across Hurley Road, threatens Axel's living and his new friends. Axel has no choice but to to take the fight to his enemies, the only way he knows how. But is the DIY Barn really nothing but a rival hardware store, or is it a front for sinister forces, far more terrifying than the Pavilionites ever imagined? (Spoiler: It's the second one)

An engaging mix of urban fantasy and workplace comedy, Mysterious Aisles follows its eccentric ensemble cast as they march towards open warfare with the Barnling forces.

I saw this book recommended on Mastodon. I loved the idea of a supervillain having to work at a hardware store as part of his parole. I also love reading books that lean hard into the absurd. This book fit the bill.

Everyone at The Handy Pavilion has a secret. Axel isn’t the only one hiding his past. He’s working really hard to go straight but when their store is threatened by the arrival of another hardware store it is time to put their abilities to use.

I love the dialogue in this book.

“I’m not a tough bloke to work for; I reckon I can say that. But I’m not letting any laws of science get broken in my section.”

If you aren’t a fan of books that have lots of characters or that just keep getting more and more outrageous, then this might not be the book for you.

“There comes a point where existence is so absurd that there’s no point sweating the details.”

“Where did you say you were from?”

“Nineteenth-century Nairobi, but in an alternate Afrocentric steampunk timeline.”

“From… overseas,” Marlon said, as he made a note. “And you’re legally allowed to work in this country?”

“Oh… Uh… Let’s go with ‘yes, why not?’”

“Then we’re good to go,” Marlon said. “Congratulations, you start in Cleaning Products tomorrow.

And always remember –

““The only way to keep your information safe is to keep it offline,” he’d written in at least a dozen posts across five different social media networks.”