Thursday, April 3, 2014

REVIEW: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

The Last Dragonslayer
by Jasper Fforde

“Quarkbeasts, for all their fearsome looks, are obedient to a fault. They are nine-tenths velociraptor and kitchen blender and one-tenth Labrador. It was the Labrador tenth that I valued most.” 

Please forgive me if this review makes no sense. I have Thursday mush brain.

One of my favorite authors, Jasper Fforde, who brought us the Thursday Next series, tells us the tale of Jennifer Strange, a foundling who works for Kazam Mystical Arts Management, a company that contracts out wizards to do home repairs. Magic was once a powerful force in the world, and it is waning. Those who once could turn lead into gold now can barely manage to unclog a drain without help. When a prophecy declares that the last dragon will die on Sunday at noon, the magical community wonders if that means magic will be gone for good. Greedy land grabbers to wait with baited breath along the dragon land border with flags and twine, companies vie for merchandising contracts, and the two countries on either side of the territory are preparing for war. It is up to Jennifer and her pet, the terrifying Quarkbeast, to get to the bottom of this situation while trying to keep Kazam from falling apart.

This was an absolutely charming book. It felt like Harry Potter with all the serious parts taken out and all the goofy random fun stuff kept in.  For a while I thought it was just fluff, especially with Jennifer blithely and confidently sailing through the administrative troubles of Kazam, but the second she doesn't have a witty comeback, you know shit has hit the fan. Those are the juiciest moments, when she is vulnerable and out of her element and must regroup to succeed. I also cheered that Jennifer was a non-magical ADMINISTRATOR! She made sure people filled out the correct form for x or y spell and took care of the more artistically-minded magic workers.

The world is a charming mix of the medieval (wizards, dragons, castles, kings) and the modern (Jennifer's orange VW Bug, plumbing, paperwork, merchandising). Fforde is king of the mash up, and spices it with wonderful jokes like this: “It was written in the ancient RUNIX spell-language, and is read-only and can't be modified.” And a moose illusion that will not go away. And a Dragonslayer headquarters which is a bit like Ghostbusters.

I highly recommend this book if you love whimsy and kick ass female characters.

Other Jasper Fforde Books I Have Reviewed
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels 
The Fourth Bear
Shades of Grey