In the good old days, magic was powerful, unregulated by government, and even the largest spell could be woven without filling in the magic release form B1-7g. But somewhere, somehow, the magic started draining away.
Jennifer Strange runs Kazam!, an employment agency for state-registered magicians, soothsayers and sorceresses. But work is drying up. Drain cleaner is cheaper and quicker than a spell. Why trust a cold and drafty magic carpet when jetliners offer a comfy seat and an in-flight movie? And now potions are eligible for VAT…
But then the visions start. The Last Dragon is going to be killed by a Dragonslayer at 12.00 on Sunday. The death will unleash untold devastation on the UnUnited Kingdom, setting principality against dukedom and property developer against homesteader. And all the signs are pointing to Jennifer Strange, and saying”Big Magic is coming!”
It takes a special kind of reader to appreciate a Jasper Fforde novel: A reader who is not afraid to believe in the impossible, who is not afraid to accept even the most eccentric set-ups, a reader who revels in the imagination and creativity that stems from the mind of one of the most creative contemporary authors. Fforde’s characteristic satirical style rings true in The Last Dragonslayer that is ostensibly called YA fiction but, in my opinion, is meant for anyone who enjoys a good book. Of course it is a bit simpler in tone and writing style than his adult book (mores the pity) but it retains the insane world building that is so characteristic of Fforde. Jasper Fforde, my dear readers, does not just build worlds, he creates universes. From the alphabet to the economics, Fforde’s worlds rotate to their own sun.
The depth of information that is logically presented with a dash of satire and absurdity to make it more palatable just blows my mind. Jennifer Strange is a protagonist most able to gain my empathy with her foundling status. The various wizards with their various levels of insanity are colourful characters that come alive in HD colour and romp all over the pages. Even the Quark beast with its many teeth and loyalty to Jenny is compelling. Tiger, the new foundling, who is as lost as we are in the beginning of the novel makes for a great companion as we uncover the aspects of the world the story is set.
This novel has no sparkly beings (Dragons don’t sparkle), no mysterious boy in a biology class (the foundlings have no time to attend school), no girls insecure about their physical attributes (Jenny is too busy running a business and not fighting dragons) and no romance (apart from the barest hint of it) but what it does have is a firm narrative, a fun world and dragons. It gives a satirical look at the world we live in, our grasping for five minutes of fame or notoriety, and reality TV. We get up close and personal with Greed and other not so nice aspects of human nature. I liked this book. A lot. And while readers who are all about romance, supernatural creatures etc will not like it, fans of books such as Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging will. If you want to read something quirky, read The Last Dragonslayer.