Friday, May 9, 2014

Review of Song of the Quarkbeast

Book #16. The Song of the Quarkbeast, by Jasper Fforde. Unabridged audio.

Continuing where the first novel in the series (The Last Dragonslayer, reviewed here), this novel pushes forward the story of the young foundling Jennifer Strange. The sixteen year-old has been left in charge of Kazam Mystical Arts Management, one of the two larger (and the more noble of the pair) magic-performing companies. Magic has been in decline for years, but since last episode, that may be changing.

Kazam’s main competitor, the newly-rebranded iMagic is up to no good, manipulating the easily manipulable King Snodd into ordering a contest between company’s wizards, with the future of the two companies at stake.  Jennifer rightly expects to win, but when her team begins losing sorcerers to Runix powered spells and trumped up petty magical crimes, she begins to doubt. And in her search for new wizards to join her team, Jennifer learns that nefarious plans are indeed afoot in the Ununited Kingdoms.

I have read many of Fforde’s prior novels, form both the Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes series, and he certainly has a disctinctive style. I can certainly understand a reader being put off by the light-hearted tone and wordplay, put it is a style I personally enjoy.

But the light-hearted tone does not take away from the plot or character beats. The story builds on the events of the first novel, and continues threads in both the world-building and overall arc. The story is not silly, the stakes are not small, and the character development is not inconsequential. Fforde manages to balance a “serious” story and a light tone in a very enjoyable way.

Source: public library

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