Reviewed by: Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team
A sweet, fairly low-angst romance, The Leprechaun Next Door makes you wonder about the possibilities of wishes. It also is a fable aimed squarely at our millennial generation, who face a world of uncertainty quite different from that faced by my generation.
Devon Payne is in his late twenties and seems to have had the whole world collapse around him in a single day. Both his job and his relationship turned out to be not what he believed, and he finds himself alone and unemployed, moving into a sad little furnished apartment on the other side of town.
Almost immediately, Devon meets his neighbor across the hall, a spritely redhead named Johnny O’Donnell, who without all that much preamble confesses that he’s a leprechaun who works as a bartender in the neighborhood. He also tells Devon that he can grant wishes.
Now why would a leprechaun do that? It puzzled me all the way through the book, until a wee lightbulb lit up over my head. Johnny wants something. The bulk of this short novel concerns Devon dealing with Johnny’s interference and the consequences of his own wishes. Devon also has to think about motivation: his own and Johnny’s.
“But leprechauns were tricky beasts, neither wholly good nor wholly evil.”
It is an oddly vague world Coldwell has built. It seems to be somewhere in a city in New England, and while Devon doesn’t appear to understand that his world is full of magical creatures at the beginning of the story, he accepts the existence of leprechauns with surprising calm. Johnny makes a few offhand references to other creatures, and Devon barely flinches on learning that there’s a vampire who runs a nearby bookstore – but we don’t even get to meet him. It feels rather as if there was a longer book here, and the author whittled it down to this long-novella format. It left me with so much I wanted to know about the place, and about Johnny and Devon. I wanted to know more about leprechauns – a lot more. This ought to be the first of a series, but that’s not the way it looked to me.
All that said, the story of Johnny and his meddling in Devon’s messed-up life works very nicely. Devon has to think about who he really is, and whether or not he is doing what’s expected of him, rather than what his heart calls out for him to do. Having been hurt by others, does he wish them ill, or is he a kinder person than that? The most tantalizing aspect of The Leprechaun Next Door is this question: if you had the power to wish for anything your heart desired, what would it be?