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by Sam Gayton
On the night of the new moon, Yuk comes to guzzle the townsfolk. In an effort to save her town, Greta travels to Avalon to find a giant-slaying hero. What she finds instead is Hercufleas. He may be small, but he is (mostly) convinced that he can help Greta.
In an epic adventure, Greta and Hercufleas set off to find the one weapon—the Black Death—that can slay Yuk. As they travel, Greta’s bitterness and despair threaten to overtake her. Can the two figure out a way to save the village? Or will their despair cause the end of Greta’s world?
Hercufleas is a fun-filled fantasy that shows that size doesn’t make a person mighty. Filled with outrageously unique villains, an uncertain hero, and a little girl who doesn’t believe in anything, Hercufleas takes the reader on an adventure that readers will not soon forget. In the end, the reader is left with the message that evil cannot destroy evil, only goodness can.
- A shopkeeper hires two villains to kill Greta. They try to kill her but want to make it look like an accident. One of the assassins dies when he falls from his flying bird. The assassin, “disappeared with a hideous shriek down into the fog.”
- The shopkeeper finds Greta and plans on killing her. Instead, he is bitten by a rattleroot and dies. “Stickler screamed and kicked with his leg, trying to shake it off . . . the paralyzing poison was already starting to work.”
- Yuk, an enormous monster, eats the townsfolk.
- Hercufleas challenges Sir Klaus, a mouse, to a duel. They fight until one drop of blood is shed.
- When Yuk comes to guzzle people, the townsfolk attack. “The Cossacks had thrown their iron nets over the giant. In seconds, they fixed them into the ground with stakes and hammers. During this time Yuk devours several people. “A terrible scream echoed from somewhere below. Perched above Yuk’s tonsils, Hercufleas saw a dim shape tumble down the giants’ throat and vanished with a faraway plop.
- Hercufleas battles rattleroots.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Miss Witz has a copper bell, and “a Gypsy had charmed the bell so lies make it ring.”
- The fleas in the story were created (though alchemy) to be tall, talking fleas. “Alchemy is where you make up potions that can change you.”
- The stone giant was “chiseled from granite and brought to life by alchemy.”
- Hercufleas eats strands from Yuk’s brain, which allows him to see Yuk’s memories.
- The fleas have a prayer that ends with, “we’ll all jump to fleaven/When our last jump comes.” Fleaven is where “all great and good bugs of the world go.”
- Greta passes the great salt lakes and explains that “it comes from the old prophecies. God adds one salty tear to the lakes for every new evil in the world.”