Stars: 5 out of 5
I have a difficult time describing this book other than that I absolutely loved it! It’s well written and engaging, and the world is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’m not sure how to classify it. Is it alternate history? Is it urban fantasy? Is it steampunk? Or maybe a little bit of both and none of them at the same time? You see what I mean?
Thursday Next is a Litera Agent who investigates all sorts of literary crimes, which include forgery, book theft and other, more fantastical occurrences, like the kidnapping of famous literary characters straight out of a book and into the real world… or the disappearance of a real person into a book. Yes, things like that happen in Thursday’s world.
And what an interesting world it is. An alternate history Europe where the Crimean war never ended. Where there was no Russian revolution, and airplanes were never invented because why invent something new when blimps work perfectly fine? So it is a weird world that is similar to our in some ways (telephones, cars, etc.), but very different in others: it has a ChronoGuard branch of SpecOps after all, so time travel and time manipulation is a common practice. People use credit cards, but the names of the banks are as foreign to us as if they were written in Chinese. And names like Jack Shitt, Victor Analogy or Thursday Next are common and perfectly normal.
In fact, I could help but think that while Thursday was investigating book theft and manipulation of written narrative, her own world was also a book. Which, ironically, it is. I’m reading it. And it’s so fun to see the author kind of playing with this idea, even if it’s never mentioned. Usually writers try to make their created worlds convincing, so that the readers can get lost exploring this brand new plane of existence at their leisure and forget that they are reading a book. Don’t get me wrong, Thursday’s world is convincing. It has an inner logic. But it’s also very “bookish”. And it’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s a very fun and wild ride.
Part of my enjoyment for this book is due to our protagonist. Thursday Next is an awesome character! She is flawed and deeply wounded by her time fighting in Crimea. She can be stubborn and unyielding, but she is also smart and has a lot of heart. I was really rooting for her from the beginning. Plus, she has a pet dodo. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with a pet dodo! I am glad that Thursday managed to resolve some of her issues by the end of this book, even if that resolution was a little bit on the nose for me.
That might be the only small gripe for me – the villain in this book was very, almost comic-book, villainous. But that works well with the idea that Thursday’s world is also a book, so while I would have loved to have a little more depth to Hades’ character, he worked well for the story.
There are plenty of other interesting characters in this book that don’t get enough spotlight, in my opinion. And judging how well-written this book is, my thought is that they will be covered in the next books. Like we mention Spike and his job policing the vampire and werewolf population, but this isn’t expanded upon. Thursday acts like the existence of supernatural beings is common knowledge in this world, but again, the reader doesn’t get any other explanation. Hopefully, we will explore this aspect of the world more in subsequent books, because I quite like Spike.
There is also the case of Thursday seeing her older self in a rather bad situation and stashing a gun for her other self to use. That scene doesn’t happen in the timeline of the first book, so I can only hope that this is something significant to the plot in the next instalments.
All in all, I absolutely loved this book and I will definitely read the next book in the series just to see more of this crazy world and what happens to Thursday.