Trans Wizard Harriet Porber and the Bad Boy Parasaurolophus: An Adult Romance Novel
by Chuck Tingle
Published June 2020
Score: It’s by Chuck Tingle
This review needs a bit more context than normal. If you’ve never heard of Chuck Tingle before, then I assume that the title and the cover of this book have left you with a lot of questions. Strap in, it’s a wild ride.
Chuck Tingle claims to be a ta-kwon-do master with a degree in holistic massage. His mission is to Prove Love with his erotic short stories, dubbed ‘Tinglers’. Classic Tinglers include Professor T-Rex Teaches me Gayness, Slammed up the Butt by my Hot Coffee Boss, Glazed by the Gay Living Donuts, Pounded by the Pound: Turned Gay by the Socioeconomic Implications of Britain Leaving the European Union, and the Hugo-Nominated short story Space Raptor Butt Invasion.
Yeah, 2016 was a weird year for the Hugo Awards. It’s also how I learnt about Tingle. Interestingly, the previous paragraph took forever to write, because trying to pick just four Tingle titles to mention alongside Space Raptor Butt Invasion is not easy. He has written a lot of stuff, and is mostly known for gay dinosaur erotica. But that isn’t all he has written. In July 2019, Tingle released his first Lesbian Tingler (Sentient Lesbian Jet Ski Gets Me Off). There have also been bisexual group encounters (We Are Loving Bisexuals and They Are Living Bicycles), platonic/asexual Tinglers (Not Pounded In The Butt By Anything And That’s Okay), and topical political commentary (Domald Tromp Pounded in the Butt by His Fabricated Wiretapping Scandal Made Up to Redirect Focus Away from His Seemingly Endless Unethical Connections to Russia.)
Okay, I’ll resist listing more titles. But if they made you laugh, you really need to see the book covers too.
The other thing you need to know in order to understand this book, is that J.K. Rowling is publically transphobic now. I’m going to gloss over most of what she said, because by now people more informed than me have debunked her claims in a much more serious setting. The big thing to understand is that on June 10 2020 Rowling posted an article on her reasons for ‘speaking up’ on trans issues which doubled down on a lot of the things she had previously been called out for, and featured new problematic statements. Rowling gained a huge amount of influence by creating a beloved character and world, and she has used that influence to harm a marginalised group. This has left a lot of people hurt and questioning how they interact with the Potterverse.
After Rowling’s post, Chuck Tingle retweeted it with the comment; “dang thats a lot of words for ‘i think other peoples bodies are my business'” He then announced he was working on a new fantasy novel about trans wizard Harriet Porber. On June 14, he released Trans Wizard Harriet Porber and the Bad Boy Parasaurolophus, with a potion of sales profits going towards charities that support trans and autism rights for a few months. I got the book straight away, but I was busy catching up with Hugo reads, so I’m only getting around to reading it now. When I started reading, I was debating whether I should post a review, since I’d be dredging up controversy from three months ago. But as I was reading, the reviews for Rowling’s new book (under the Robert Galbraith name) Troubled Blood started pouring in and mentioning the cross-dressing serial killer she had created. Of course, it’s totally not transphobic, since the dude isn’t transgender. He’s just one of those evil cis males that disguise himself as a woman in order to get closer to vulnerable woman. That doesn’t perpetuate anything that could be used as an attack on transwomen at all /s. So yay, I’m topical for once. Unfortunately.
And now for the review itself. This is Tingle’s third novel length book, after Helicopter Man Pounds Dinosaur Billionaire Ass and Buttageddon: The Final Days of Pounding Ass, both of which were released in 2015. The last Tingler I read was The Entire Continent of Australia Pounds Me in the Butt, where a dude goes to New Zealand, tours the set of the “Lord of the Butts” movie trilogy, meets Australia at the site where they filmed the scene of Not-Frodo getting his arse stuffed with weiners, and then they go off and fuck. With that in mind, I went into this book with certain preconceptions.
To my surprise, I didn’t get what I was expecting. Yes, it was still a silly book; the phrase “bardic motorcycle harem” appears. It is also smutty; a spell called Sexualis Secondus gets thrown about a few times to make the smut last longer. But there is a plot. A decent plot with suspense and character growth. There are insightful reflections on the creative process, an interesting magic system that we see used for amusing and charming purposes, and some deep commentary on how souls can be in wrong bodies done using clever metafiction.
In short, this book is smarter than I was expecting, and I’m not sure how comfortable I am liking a Chuck Tingle book for something other than complete absurdity.
The story is about Harriet Porber, a trans wizard (wizard is a gender neutral term here, Harriet is a transwoman) who has made a name for herself crafting spells. She is being pressured for a new hit spell, but has spellcaster’s block. Her agent Minerma sends her to a cabin on an island in England, hoping that the retreat will help Harriet get creative. Harriet finds herself living next door to Snabe Rezmor, frontman of the hit bard group Seven Inch Nails, and his bitchy sentient motorcycle girlfriends, Dellatrix and Braco. From here, the story hits what I’m assuming are a lot of familiar notes from bad boy romances. The main twist though – aside from the angsty rich bad boy being a transgender dinosaur. And aside from the bitchy rival being a motorcycle. And aside from it being set in the crazy magical Tingleverse – is that Snabe uses metamagic, which results in him being completely self aware. He knows that he is a character in a romance novel, that he is a loose parody of Professor Snape (seriously though, why Snape?) and that some of the tropes of bad boy romances are toxic. I’ll quote Snabe himself to show you what I mean:
“So I’m well aware this is a bad boy romance novel, and I’ve got a job to do,” he explains. “Trust me, I don’t love acting this way, either. I guess it’s just important to remember just because a fictional character is a jerk, it doesn’t mean the author is, too. Likewise, if a fictional character is sweet and awesome, their author could still be really awful and bigoted.”
As an aside, this quote also shows off some of the jabs Tingle has made about Rowling in this book. Another great moment I love is when Harriet meets Bumbleborn, who is also self-aware and immediately discloses his sexuality to Harriet, saying it’s better to state it clearly than years later claim it was in the subtext all along.
Besides being self aware and able to address the reader directly, Snabe is also working on a songspell to allow his audience to perceive that they are characters in a book, with the hope of one day being able to affect the reader. Tingle does a lot of interesting things with the fact that his characters are self aware parodies. A lot of smart things. I was not expecting a story with a bad boy dinosaur and sentient bitch motorcycles to be so clever.
Let’s move on to the sex. It’s the main draw of most Tinglers, but it wasn’t the focus here. I think there were three sex scenes in total for this book. They were pretty hot, but also rather tame, and a bit repetitive. With Snabe and Harriet both being trans, they spent time discussing prefered terminology before their first encounter, but nowhere in the story is the fact that they are trans a huge deal. With the words ‘Trans Wizard’ appearing in the title, I was worried that reminders of Harriet’s gender identity would be constantly forced into the narrative and that it’d be her defining feature. Instead, Harriet and Snabe get to just be a couple in a romance book, with their personalities and goals not being completely dependent on being trans. Yet them being trans certainly mirrors a lot of the themes Tingle explores with the metamagic.
Finally, let’s talk about the quality of the writing. This is a 52,000 word book that appears to have been written in three days. Assuming that Chuck hadn’t already been working on this story before Rowling’s post. Which, it’s possible he was already working on it. June 10 wasn’t the first time Rowling said something unpleasant or that Chuck had criticised her. On the other hand, Chuck Tingle has been known to pump out shorter Tinglers very fast. Is it possible to write so much, so fast, and still have it be good?
The answer is yes, but also no.
I saw a lot of mistakes in this book. Lots of typos, misspelled words, incorrect word choices, and incorrect character names being used. A lot of the infuriating mistakes that can be found on any first draft. The kind of stuff that is probably everywhere in this review to be honest. The fact that this story is more serious than I was anticipating makes these mistakes much more frustrating. Despite these mistakes though, I have read books that got a lot more time and editing that still ended up being a much worse read than Harriet Porber. Chuck Tingle doesn’t litter the book with clunky narration or boring infodumps. There are no plot holes or worldbuilding contradictions that jumped out at me. Harriet Porber is an enjoyable read despite not having the benefits of a proper edit.
I am overall very impressed with this story. More so than I was expecting. I don’t know how to feel about that.
Okay, one more Chuck Tingle title before I go. As of writing, the most recent Tingler is My Handsome Sentient Face Mask Protects Me Despite The Ridiculous Conspiracy Theories That He Won’t Also He Pounds My Butt. Sounds fun.
Stay Safe Everyone.