Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Strange’

What fun! Or should that be “ffun?” Jasper Fforde doubles readers’ pleasure with two new books — the seventh entry in the Thursday Next series and the first volume in a young adult series.

First, Next. In The Woman Who Died a Lot, literary law enforcement agent extraordinaire Thursday Next is still recovering from an assassination attempt when problems arise both at work and on the homefront. Reluctantly sidelined from Spec Ops and bookjumping, Thursday’s new stint as chief librarian at the Swindon branch is marred by 100 per cent budget cuts as Britain copes with a stupidity surplus. Meanwhile, her genius daughter Tuesday is having trouble perfecting the Anti-Smite shield before an asteroid-pillar of fire strikes Swindon end of the week, talented son Friday faces a bleak future in the ChronoGuard as a might-have-been, and younger daughter Jenny, well, she doesn’t exist except as a pesky mindworm in Thursday’s memory in spite of hubby Landen’s repeated reminders that she’s a never-was. Add in the Day Player replicas of Thursday unleashed by the all-powerful Goliath Company and it’s an unusually busy seven days for our favorite literary detective. And she’s still attempting to enter DRM — Dark Reading Matter — for its potential yield of raw metaphor, although other explorers have vanished in theory.

Newcomers to BookWorld Jurisprudence would do best to start with The Eyre Affair, the first Thursday  Next novel, which I remember describing as “Harry Potter for English majors.” It remains the perfect intro to FForde’s realm of absurdism, an inventive genre-bending mash-up of fantasy and crime, funny and punny.

Or you could try The Last Dragonslayer, launching the Chronicles of Kazam. It’s a playful primer to Fforde’s alternate world-view, clever yet silly. Pragmatic foundling Jennifer Strange, almost 16, runs a mystical arts management group-employment agency for magicians, all of whom are running low on power in this day and age. Magic carpet-riders deliver pizza and workaday wizards rewire houses.

Fforde has a fine time world-building with full-on whimsy. The plot involves a prophecy about the death of the Last Dragon (as opposed to the Previous), which leads to Jennifer discovering new career skills amid greedy property developers and mercurial magicians.  Be warned that not all end wells for everyone, but enough loose ends are tied up and enough left loose to make a sequel mandatory.

Open Book: I raced through Jasper Fforde’s The Woman Who Died A Lot (Viking Penguin, paperback ARC) so I could devour The Last Dragonslayer (Harcourt hardcover), a birthday present from my friend Laura, another Fforde aficionado and Thursday Next wanna-be.

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