FantasticLand: A Novel

This dystopian disaster novel (304 pages) was published in November of 2018 by Skyhorse. The book takes you to theme park in Florida. Melissa read FantasticLand and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

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A Novel

Mike Bockoven

Welcome to FantasticLand, a massive, immersive, Disney-esque theme park in Florida where ‘Fun is Guaranteed!’ — until a once-in-a-lifetime hurricane cuts the park off from the rest of the world, and its whimsical themes and helpful employees turn deadly.

FantasticLand is a dream vacation for children and adults, a magical place that transports visitors to the imaginary worlds of Golden Street, Fairy Prairie, Fantastic Future World, Hero Haven, World’s Circus, and Pirate Cove. Every detail is themed to the max: the food, the music, the costumes, and even the smells. When you enter Pirate Cove, you’re smacked in the face with a fresh breeze carrying the smell of seawater, and the sweet scent of cotton candy guides you to the Fairy Prairie.

But on September 15, 2017, the magic was washed away by the most powerful hurricane in Florida’s history. High winds and flooding took out destroyed inland businesses and left thousands of people homeless. But according to FantasticLand management, a solid disaster plan was in place for the park: Guests were evacuated, and 326 employees stayed behind to monitor and protect the park. They’d been trained and were prepared for every eventuality — except they weren’t.

This is the story of how social order, friendships, and humanity completely broke down at FantasticLand in the aftermath of the storm. Although food and water stores should last for a month, a series of mishaps destroy trust among the employees almost immediately.

Soon, they’ve formed tribes that align with their areas of the park — the Pirates, the DeadPools, the ShopGirls, the Freaks — and FantasticLand devolves into a war zone.

The story unfolds through a series of first-person interviews conducted well after the crisis has passed. A historian, a Red Cross representative, a vacationing father, park management, and teenage employees all share their accounts in voices that are distinct, raw, and of questionable reliability.

Like a scary roller coaster, this is a dark and fiercely entertaining ride. There’s gleeful violence, a bit of slasher-film gore, and black humor — along with an insightful examination of how close any of us can be to slipping the bonds of our humanity under pressure.

Hello, guests of the Mighty Maiden, FantasticLand’s premier family resort. I am Matt Krenk, the general manager of the hotel. The alarm you just heard was a test we are required to run by park security. As you likely know, Hurricane Sadie is off the coast of Miami right now, and we are required to test this alarm in case she takes a turn in our direction, which is very unlikely. We apologize for waking most of you. We will be providing our free ‘Fantastic Breakfast’ as a way of making it up to you — it can be redeemed starting at 6:00 a.m. Again, we are sorry to have disturbed you and hope you enjoy your time at FantasticLand, the place where fun is guaranteed.’ — Mike Bockoven

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