The Hat by C.S. Boyack is a quick and fun read that involves a young woman with a magic hat, missing babies, music, and an anachronistic artifact trying to figure out the Internet. There is a good amount of humor and tension-fueled action, so it’s a hard book to put down. Length wise it’s definitely more novella than novel, which means perfect for a reader with very little extra time.
The driving force for me with this story is the interaction between Lizzie and The Hat itself. It reminds me a lot of Venom when he was the Lethal Protector, but with fewer teeth and no promises of brain eating. There are battles for control between the two since they’re practically thrown together and need to figure things out. The fast pace of the story gives the characters little time to play the doubt and hesitation game that you see a lot in superhero stories, which makes sense for a short work. Although, there are moments when it feels like Lizzie accepts things a bit too easily, but it’s hard to tell since she has moments of giddiness about the whole thing. Can’t say I’d be any different if I had a magical hat that allowed me to do things like play music or fight crime. So, there’s definitely a realism to them.
I really enjoyed discovering The Hat’s powers because you don’t really see such a thing as that powerful. It’s introduced as fairly basic as protective, which you can see by its first few actions. This begins to branch out throughout the story when they reach situations that it can help with. At first, I thought it would be rather deus ex machina, but it all makes sense. Nothing goes that far off the established base with The Hat. It can talk to Lizzie in her head? Then, it makes sense that it can mess with the mind of anyone else that touches it. I won’t say how, but The Hat really is cunning. By the end, I felt like I had a clear understanding of the workings of this artifact.
The only issue I had with the story is that its shortness worked against it in a few places. If it was spread out a little more then the urgency of the action wouldn’t crash into the more laid back comedy. Both of these were really well done, but there wasn’t much of a transition between the two points. There’s a point that starts with an urgency to give chase, but Lizzie and The Hat stopped to go shopping. I mean, it was important stuff that they were getting, but I was scratching my head about the sudden stop to the tension. It was explained why they weren’t in such a rush after the fact and the scene really opened up Lizzie’s personality. Yet, I kind of felt like this was an unfortunate stumbling of pace, which it did recover from. The grand finale was amazingly well done and the final chapter hit a perfect action/comedy combination.
I would recommend this story, especially for anyone who loves superheroes and paranormal tales, but lack the time to read a full novel.