Game of Gnomes: The Necrognomicon by M. J. Northwood

by Justine Bergman

And so begins the Game of Gnomes

Hey there, everyone! Today I’m thrilled to welcome M. J. Northwood to the blog for a special feature on Finding the Funny in Fantasy, something I believe we all need more of in our lives. Last year, I read and reviewed his epic fantasy novel, Birth of the Dawnhawk, as well as interviewed him along with his co-author for Self-Published Fantasy Month 2020, so when the opportunity to feature his comedic fantasy series, Game of Gnomes, came along, I just couldn’t say no. Those of you that know me also know I can’t stay away from two specific things when it comes to books I love: the darkest of the dark fantasy…and Ridiculous(ly)™️ funny and satiric moments. From what I’ve heard from others that have read The Necrognomicon, it seems to fit nicely in the latter, and I am in desperate need of this book. With characters named Gassy, Borty, and Turdlet…I mean, come on.

While the main focus of this feature is on The Necrognomicon, book one in Game of Gnomes, we’re celebrating the newly released sequel, A Gnome Hope, as well. So, keep scrolling to learn more about the books and author, check out M. J.’s awesome post he so graciously wrote up for us to ponder, and enter to win yourself a copy of The Necrognomicon!

The Necrognomicon by M. J. Northwood
SERIES: Game of Gnomes (#1)
PUBLISHED: May 22, 2020 by Critical Tales
GENRE: Fantasy, Humor
PAGES: 111



The Blurb

Every hurdle in a gnome’s life is just a little bit bigger. After years apart, the three gnomes Gassy, Borty, and Turdlet aim to scale the tallest of challenges a thief can face: The Crimicompetition.

Fighting for the clout against MagInc—a corporation of unimaginable influence—the gnomes are about to discover how small honour amongst thieves can get.

And so begins the Game of Gnomes

Finding the Funny in Fantasy

By its nature, fantasy doesn’t quite lend itself to jokes. 

There’s all sorts of humour in this world but the majority of it has a foundation in truth or day-to-day life, both of which are direct contrasts to the fantastical worlds found in fantasy fiction. However, that isn’t to say that humour doesn’t belong in these books. Even the godfather of fantasy himself, Mr J. R. R. Tolkein, injected a smattering of dry humour and snarky remarks into his magnum opus. 

To keep things simple, there are two ways I have found to bring a smile to a fantasy fan’s face. 

1. Bring the real world into fantasy

This doesn’t mean you need to limit yourself to urban fantasy for a good laugh, it’s just about setting up those expectations to hit the reader around the head with a surprise joke, and doing that is a lot easier if we already have preconceived notions in our heads. 

Look at the fantasy-comedy of our generation for example, Shrek, sure it’s not a book but we’re presented with a terrifying monster right out the gate only to find out he’s a grumpy bugger who only terrifies villagers so he can enjoy his retired swamp life all to himself. Shortly after, we meet a donkey that can talk and has enough game to woo a dragon, a little villain with a big ego, and a variety of flawed yet recognisable fairy tale creatures . 

The wonder of a fantasy world is that once you find something to anchor to reality you can lean heavily into the absolute absurdity of it all. 

2. Make your characters real people with a real sense of humour

This is the path most taken when it comes to humour in fantasy, and in most fiction too. 

One of the most challenging tasks for any writer is to create believable and relatable characters. Absurd events aren’t what makes a situation funny, it’s how your characters react that brings a smile to your face. 

In my experience, nothing paints a picture of a person faster than their sense of humour or lack thereof. There’s no good reason a devout priest can’t make jokes about the church, or an eight-foot lizardman can’t rely on self-deprecating humour to make friends. It’s all about who they are.

Equally, a key part of a specific character’s development is showing how other characters interact with them. Nothing shows a good friendship better than inside jokes and a shared sense of humour, and rivalry can also be shown using humour at their rival’s expense. Only truly terrible villains should be immune to mockery.  

Be true to your story

If there’s any bit of advice I can share when it comes to inserting humour into fantasy—especially if it’s only to flesh out your characters—it’s to keep it consistent. A fast way to ruin a wonderfully crafted emotional scene or the introduction of a terrifying antagonist is with a badly placed joke or wise-crack.

Meet The Author

A Co-Founder of Critical Tales, M. J. Northwood has taken his years of storytelling experience and gathered it into his latest books.

Regardless of the media format, M. J. Northwood adores telling fresh and exciting stories that plays with the reader’s imagination while tickling that rather childish funny-bone many of us adults still have.

After winning a competition at a younger age, M. J. worked towards creating his first full-length novel under commission. After spending a few years travelling and living in Japan, he delivered his first book.

Soon after, M. J. independently developed Game of Gnomes: The Necrognomicon. He worked tirelessly with a few friends to found Critical Tales and give Game of Gnomes the launch it deserved.


After you’ve read and loved The Necrognomicon, be sure to immediately follow it up with A Gnome Hope, which is now available for your enjoyment!

Intrigue. Explosions. Illicit Magic Abuse.

These morally questionable ingredients make up another outrageous adventure from Gassy, Borty, and Turdlet. With the Crimicon long in the past, the gnomes find themselves bouncing from one criminal caper to another until an encounter with a familiar face reveals a nobler path.

Will they answer the righteous call and save the day? Or will emotionally scarring misadventures lead them astray?

The stakes are higher, the story’s bigger, but our heroes are just as small.

Amazon | Goodreads | Critical Tales

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Happy Reading!

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