I don’t know what rock I’ve been hiding under, but I have somehow totally missed the Thursday Next series until this book. And what a book! Thursday Next, the plucky heroine, is smart, sexy, bold– and in her 50s (at least in this book). She has arthritis and battle wounds, bad knees and crows’ feet. She is also very capable with a handgun, on the rare occasion it proves necessary. After reading this book, I can no longer say I don’t particularly care for mysteries or suspense novels.
In this book, Thursday Next finds herself relegated to the sidelines (she thinks) in a new position as chief librarian of the Swindon Library (the corporate-sponsored name is much longer than that) after an attempt on her life. But it seems that chaos follows her wherever she goes. A villain from a previous novel has tricked Thursday into believing she has a child (Jenny) who in fact does not exist (in the generally understood meaning of that term). And now there’s evidence that villain has escaped. Furthermore, Next’s rival, the Moriarty to her Sherlock, as it were, is up and about again stealing 13th C codices and leaving a trail of clones– of her, of his minions, and of himself. What’s he up to? Finally, there’s the combined issue of God (a very real person in this book) Smiting Swindon, with Next’s genius 16 year old daughter (a real one) tasked to protect the town and Next’s brother. Oh, yeah, and the 16 year old is falling in love with a grotty jerk at the same time. All of this happens in one week. What was your week like?
This book has clones, time travel, God Smiting The Sinful (or at least, the possibility of Smiting), mind control, and, best of all, books. Lots and lots of books. Books are gateways into alternate realities. In fact, in this series, books are so important that they have their own police and spies. The library has its own Michelin-starred chef (at least at first). In this book, a displaced character from a novel becomes a fully-fledged person in his own right in “real” life. There’s a lot of slippage in this book– between alternating realities, between personal identities (sometimes Thursday isn’t herself AND SHE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW IT), and between the fabric of space and time itself.
This book was so, so fun to read. Fforde tells a very suspenseful story with wit and panache. He’s such an inventive, ingenious writer. The Woman Who Died A Lot comes out Oct 2nd. You MUST read it. If you’re interested, you can preorder it here from Amazon, but I bet your local indie seller would be happy to place a preorder for you as well (and then you wouldn’t have to pay shipping AND you’d be supporting your local economy, which is good for your soul. Unless, of course, your local is a jerkwad, in which case, screw him.).
I’m going to go read the rest of the books in this series RIGHT NOW. I suggest you do likewise.
PS I was given an ARC from the publisher (I think via a ShelfAwareness giveaway, but I can’t remember right now) in exchange for an honest review.