Book Review: Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde
I’d like to begin by freely acknowledging (again) that Jasper Fforde is my favorite living author. He will be visiting my local book store in about a month and I am gleefully preparing for his visit. That said, I would also like to freely acknowledge that his books are not for everyone. But, oh, the people they are for are MY PEOPLE. The people of my heart. The students whom I walk by in the library and am struck with a visceral remembrance of what it was like for me to be in middle school.
The Song of the Quarkbeast picks up where The Last Dragonslayer left off. Jennifer Strange, sixteen-year-old foundling, is still de facto in charge of the Kazam House of Enchantment due to the continued absence of the Great Zambini. Magical power (referred to as crackle) is slowly increasing in the wake of the Big Magic that occurred in TLD, and Kazam is in greater demand for its magical services – finding lost objects, repairing structures, and the newest request, the rebuilding of Electro-magical devices, such as microwaves and the mobile phone network.
Strange and sinister things are afoot, however, when the Amazing Blix, head of the only other House of Enchantment is named the Official Court Sorcerer by King Snodd. Jennifer Strange, with the assistance of her sidekick, fellow foundling Tiger Prawns, and the motley assortment of active and retired wizards of Kazam, must figure out what is really going on before all magic comes under the purview of King Snodd, who intends to use it for his own financial gain.
As in all Jasper Fforde novels, a dizzying array of seemingly unrelated plot points are woven together to create an amazing tapestry of story. Some of the highlights include an explanation of magic behind the longevity of select wizards, a mind altering view of the human race from the perspective of the trolls, and the explanation of the creation and purpose of the regenerating quarkbeasts. The novel is also filled with Fforde’s trademark clever (if occasionally awful) puns and witticisms that only add to the delight of the story. I would encourage you (as I do almost anyone who asks) to read this series.
If you are at a loss for who might enjoy his books, I’d point you in the direction of those readers who find delight in Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchet, or even, to a certain extent, Tolkein. And if you, as an adult reader, have not read Fforde’s The Eyre Affair, I would strongly suggest starting there yourself. You can thank me later. If you’re one of my people.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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