Premise: Jack McCall is a thirteen year old boy with good friends and a loving family that one day starts having headaches. What he learns from the doctor is devastating: he has cancer. His best friend Waddy Wadsworth is not as concerned as he is, since you hear stories of people getting over this type of thing all the time.
Jack lives on the edge of Sinnissippi Park, where his imaginary friends Pick and his owl Daniel return to him from earlier in his childhood and lead him on an adventure to save the park from an evil imprisoned in a massive tree. Not only is he supposed to save the park, but Jack is led into a struggle to save himself.
Imaginary Friends is a short story first released twenty years ago in the anthology Once Upon A Time, and is the inspiration for Running with the Demon,the first book in Terry Brooks’ Word and the Void series.
Themes: In Imaginary Friends, Jack is forced to face his adversary head on. This is a story about overcoming adversity and what someone can achieve when they have the will to fight for their lives.
We also learn in this short story how friends can give us encouragement to go on, whether real or imaginary. Imaginary Friends tells us that good friends will be there whenever we need them regardless of time spent apart. Friends also challenge us, believe in us, and encourage us to better things.
Pros: Running with the Demon is one of my favorite books by Terry Brooks. This short story was written before the novel and was the inspiration for that story. Pick and Daniel were as I remembered them in the book, especially Pick’s cranky personality and curmudgeonly language. I hadn’t read this short story before and it was to my pleasure that this was made available because it gave me some insight into Terry working out the details for a new world. The biggest pro for me is that for a short period of time Terry is giving all the proceeds to his webmaster and friend Shawn Speakman to help him pay for his cancer treatment bills.
Cons: Pick is described differently here than in Running with the Demon. In this story he is a tiny elf with a red beard. In Running with the Demon, he is described as a sylvan made of twigs knitted together with a mossy beard and leafy head. Without giving away either story, the thing trapped in the tree is different between the two stories as well. The ending was a little predictable, at least for me.
Recommendations: Imaginary friends is a heartwarming story about overcoming cancer and the inner battle for survival. It is fitting that for a short period of time Terry has made this story available for sale in ebook format to help his webmaster and friend Shawn Speakman pay for his cancer treatments. Not only will you get a story that helped set the stage for one of my favorite of his novels, you will be helping someone else in the process. On those grounds alone I could recommend this story, but Imaginary Friends is a nice short story with characters and setting inspiring one of my favorite Terry Brooks books, Running with the Demon,and is a testament to the power of the human spirit.
Terry Brooks’ website
Imaginary Friends on Goodreads
Buy ebook of Imaginary Friends for your Kindle