It's been a while since I read one of Jasper Fforde's books, and when I stumbled on this one at the library while looking for something entirely different, I knew I should give it a go. After all, I love most of his Thursday Next novels so much I own them. This being his first YA novel, I was curious to see how much of his quirky style translated to writing for a younger audience.
Turns out a lot of it. This isn't actually set in the same alternate universe as the Thursday Next books, but it's got some similarities. Only, instead of people who can jump in and out of books, you have magicians and dragons and berserkers. And lots and lots of silly names, zany oddments of world-building, and sly digs at real world obsessions with silly celebrities. No Toast Marketing Board, but I kind of expected it to crop up somewhere.
The protagonist here, sixteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange, also has a lot of similarities to Thursday Next, being intelligent and courageous and snarky. I thought she lacked a little of Thursday's sparkle, but she made up for it with a startling amount of common sense. She basically runs a sort of magical home improvement company, but winds up being the Last Dragonslayer and trying to stop a war, save a dragon from being slain, and keep all the world's magic from draining away. I'm not going to try to explain anything more than that because really, either you'll like this book or you will find it too silly and odd, and only you can decide that for yourself.
So I'll just say that the magic in this book doesn't involve written-out spells or lists of ingredients for magic potions. The magicians do the magic, we just see what happens. In case you were wondering. Visit Jasper Fforde's website to learn more -- this is the first book of a series of 4, and the third was released this year.
It looked set to become even hotter by the afternoon, just when the job was becoming more fiddly and needed extra concentration (p. 1).
Particularly Good Bits:
Working with those versed in the Mystical Arts was sometimes like trying to knit with wet spaghetti: just when you thought you'd gotten somewhere, it all came to pieces in your hands (p. 2).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG for some tense and exciting moments.