Monday, December 7, 2015

Welcome to Kazam...where unimaginable horrors share the day with moments of confusing perplexity and utter randomness

You'd think Jasper Fforde and dragons would have been a no brainer for me, but I had stayed away from this series, despite the fact that this is a Fforde series and I luuuuuuuuurve him, because it's a kids series. It says for grades 5-7. So while I KNOOOW children's lit can be amazing, it's not something that I was thinking would be my thing and thus I ignored it. Then more and more people starting talking about how great it is and it was on sale and hey, I do love Fforde so I decided to give it a try.

5-7 graders are more advanced than I had assumed. Or actually, I think what's more likely true is that a lot of the other books I read would also probably be fine for 5-7 graders. Because if you hadn't told me this was a kids book then other than the fact that the protagonist is a teenager I don't think I would have noticed. And I guess I still can't really tell what makes this a kids book vs. not.

As with all Fforde books, the plot is sort of hard to explain. The main character is Jennifer Strange, who works at an employment agency for magical people, and lives in the nation of Kazam. They seem to mostly do house renovations, fixing the plumbing and whatnot, but since they can do it with magic no need to tear through walls. She's sort of an indentured servant to the place, which is the normal situation for orphans and, at least for Strange, doesn't appear to be all that unpleasant. She it's pretty much running the place, especially since the manager Mr. Zambini has gone missing. And there's a prophecy the last dragonslayer will kill the last dragon, which will lead to a massive war as opposing armies vie for control of the dragon land. The usual imminent peril that plagues Fforde protagonists.
Two people tried to kill me, I was threatened with jail, had fifty-eight offers of marriage, and was outlawed by King Snodd IV. All that and more besides, and in less than a week.
All of Fforde's books feel the same. I mean, they all have the same style, and all deal with plots that are nigh impossible to describe, with morally upstanding and intelligent leads, evil corporations/governments with seemingly unlimited resources to use against our plucky and intelligent hero. While I guess this could get repetitive, it doesn't. Thursday Next, Nursery Crimes, even Shades of Grey and now this are all sort of the same but in such entertainingly different ways that I love it every time. Now I can add The Last Dragonslayer to the list.

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 16, location 182

Fforde, Jasper. The Last Dragonslayer. HMH Books, 2012. Kindle