A Review of Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Capricious Shadows

by Tom Hoffman

Orville Wellington Mouse is a timid yet courageous, vocabulary-hungry fellow who, with the encouragement and support of his two best friends and fellow Metaphysical Adventurers, Sophia mouse and Proto the rabbiton, discover puzzles that are actually bone-chilling challenges to their world, and irresistible calls to personal adventure. In this his latest escapade — The Puzzle of the Capricious Shadows by Tom Hoffman — Orville and his little team take on their biggest challenge yet: the collapsing endless void that separates individual realities, portending nothing less than the destruction of a plethora (a word Orville would savor, making sure to use it 10 times in a day) of additional inhabited worlds. In other words, once again Orville must save his world, not to mention countless others.

Tom Hoffman has spent three glorious volumes creating and expositing the fictional universe inhabited by Orville and his friends. In The Puzzle of the Capricious Shadows — the best of the series so far — we are treated to a most wonderful, humor-filled delight of brave-hearted but vulnerable souls tackling issues much larger than themselves. Incorporating magic that is only science that is truly magic, they represent a level of metaphysical wisdom misleadingly made subtle by a smart and creative author. One forgets that he is an adult reading a young person’s book, and you might be inclined to blame it on a stray mote when a tear or two makes an unwarranted appearance. Or maybe Orville or Sophia shaped it there to teach us a necessary lesson. Or maybe, just maybe, Tom Hoffman is showing us all the truth disguised as inordinate, adventurous, heart-warming fun.