I'm trying to find a fantasy novel that I read like 20 years ago. From what I remember, it was a more comical fantasy novel than a serious one. I want to say that it was in the style of Piers Anthony or Terry Brooks.
A teenager is working in a shoe store and is taking inventory. He finds a pair of really outlandish boots that somehow hit him on the head. He wakes up and is in the fantasy world and the boots can now "communicate" with him. He ends up walking around meeting other characters on his way to get home. I think he finds a castle underground that has an imprisoned queen ant or something like that. He releases her, but discovers that it is a mistake and has to re-imprison her. Eventually, he re-imprisons her and discovers his way back home. He keeps the boots, but they no longer "communicate" with him.
I read this novel about 20 years ago, but I will attempt to answer any additional details that I can. I want to say that I probably read this novel between 1996-2000. I have reviewed the works of Piers Anthony, Terry Pratchett, and Terry Brooks looking for one that matches up.
I don't recall any of the characters names, but recall that the store clerk had an average, every day name since he was from 20th century Earth.
The clerk was probably in his late teens to early 20's. I think he was working at the shoe story while in high school and may have been about to graduate. The job was just a short term, part-time job. He may have been from California.
I only have the vaguest of recollections of the other characters besides the clerk and the talking boots. I seem to remember that the boots were a black and red color with maybe spikes and a skull. I remember that the boots were on a top shelf because everyone thought they were ugly and no one had an interest in buying them.
Releasing the Ant Queen was a mistake because she wanted to take over the world and had been locked away with her troops in the underground castle. She probably did the classic villain move of "I'll help you, but then double cross you." I think the castle was in a crystal dome and I seem to remember the ants being a red color.
I will do some research on the Xanth books to see if one matches up and to post any more details that I can think of. Thank you for your help.