Path Of Smoke: A Novel Of The Parallel Parks by Bailey Cunningham
The 2nd in the trilogy sees change. One of the group has 'died' in Anfractus and cannot return so his friends lie to him about the mystical realm which does not go well.
Plots are afoot and people begin to learn what new world Anfractus' ruler aims to build. The group are driven away from all hope. All norms disappear, people are socailly insecure and have willed hopelessness. The 'dead' character is exiled from the orbit of his friends lives which leads to unstartling consequences.
We learn more about the park's attraction to the characters and they realise far more people are playing the 'LARP' than they realised. People have conflicting perspectives. The grad students are not ferociously intellectual, it seems playing a magical LARP every night would have a general incomptability with everyday life.
Things seem to be kicking into apocalyptic overdrive and while this lacks dramatic tension and brooding darkness, it is good. There are reckless stupid decisions and no hope of escape from the LARP. There is no ferocious intensity and this isn't era defining but this is enjoyable fantasy.
“They had a way of closing ranks against you.”
“Your own family might not be on your side?”
“This is the exposition scene.”
“How did the park even work? Was it magic? Was it a curse?”
“Nobody chose normal.”
“Made him practice acceptable eye contact.”
“An RPG set in ancient Rome.”