The Land of OCKT

by M.O. Muriel and J.L. Muriel, illustrations by M.O. Muriel
Reviewed by Scott T. Barnes

The Land of OCKT begins on a delightfully funny note as the weasel Kat Herder Peeje gets summoned by the governing body of OCKT, the Council of Indecision (COIN), to solve a mystery:  Where has the heir to OCKT, the young Princess Rosepetals, disappeared to? It is the first decision the COIN has made in 1,000 years, and Peeje is rightfully proud.
The COIN assumes the Princess has been kidnapped by OCKT's enemies in distant Wan-Wan Land, and off Peeje goes to find the mystical land of baddies. Unfortunately, no one knows how to get there. 

Right away I got a The King of Elfland's Daughter vibe from The  Land of OCKT. (And if you haven't read that classic by Lord Dunsany, run off and buy it today.) Illustrated by M.O. Muriel and written by M.O. and J.L. Muriel, The Land of OCKT offers wonder, delight, and laughs a 'plenty. Some of the humor is silly and some intellectual, word play being the preferred modus operandi, followed by satire. M.O.'s illustrations had me laughing out loud.

Peeje the weasel's much-maligned katz are supernatural beings that blink in and out of visibility and yack up flaming hairballs. They like nothing more than creating mischief...and pilfering whatever they can. Their antics get the weasel into plenty of trouble, although their mutual love is apparent.

Peeje gets tired of the Council of Indecision (a bunch of self-indulging slugs that preside over a round table...facing outwards) and heads out on his own. But he has no idea where to go. After some wandering, he gets a clue that the Land's official road builder, an ogre, might know the way to Wan-Wan Land.

After the compelling debut, The Land of OCKT wanders a little aimlessly for thirty or so pages. Reading the back cover, this seemed wholly appropriate. The book came about from Marine Captain J.L. Muriel's experiences as a Military Combat Advisor in Iraq. In fact, inspiration struck as Captain Muriel participated in a council of sheikhs who could never seem to get anything done.  (In case you are wondering, the Iraqis inspired the flaming hairball-yacking katz, the Marine Combat Advisors the Kat Herders.) This middle section, like post-combat operations in Iraq, felt like jogging in soft sand--Peeje doesn't seem to get anywhere. The katz don't have much individual personality, even their chief Handjive, and I found myself wishing Peeje had a sidekick.

(Huff snuff, thought Peeje, I'm a professional. I don't need a sidekick.)

The story really picks up when Peeje learns that Queen Boo-Foo in the Mountains of the Moon must know the way to Wan-Wan land. Her kingdom brims with wonders and surprises, and the book's tone progresses definitively towards Through the Looking Glass. Of course, the Queen's information doesn't come without a price. Peeje must discover the secret of hair regeneration in the Emerald Caverns or risk losing Princess Rosepetals forever.

From the adventure to Queen Boo-Foo's Magnanimous Palace to the end, I couldn't put The Land of OCKT  down. The finale will have you smiling. And, considering its inspiration, it is completely appropriate. The Land of OCKT teaches us many truths that will outlast contemporary commentary on the war.

Besides the thirty-odd slow pages, I had only one minor complaint. Peeje never seems to be in any real danger. I don't just mean physical danger; there was never a moment that looked like he would fail.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed The Land of OCKT and would recommend it to anyone looking for an intelligent divertissement. OCKT's humor definitely appeals to adults, while its length, animals and farcical nature should appeal to a younger audience.

The Land of OCKT
by M.O. Muriel and J.L. Muriel, illustrations by M.O. Muriel
115 pages
Available on Amazon, Smashwords, and other online stores