September 5, 2012
The Last Dragonslayer
First sentence: "It looked set to become even hotter by the afternoon, just when the job was becoming more fiddly and needed extra concentration."
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Review copy provided by my place of employment.
Jennifer Strange, 15, is just an indentured servant running the Kazam Mystical Arts Management in the wake of owner Mr. Zambini's disappearance. No, it's not easy managing a group of magicians whose magic is slowly fading, but she's managing.
Then one of her magicians has a vision: Maltcassion, the last dragon, is going to be killed at noon on Sunday. By the last dragonslayer. Which happens to be Jennifer.
On the one hand, this little book is classic Fforde (granted, I've only read one other of his books): witty, slightly odd, with a tendency for clever names. The story is... intriguing... and interesting alternative history (The Ununited Kingdoms, for example, where Jennifer lives in the Kingdom of Hereford, under King Snood). But, while it's whimsical, it's also... odd. I'm not sure quite why I feel that way, just that while I thought the oddness worked in The Eyre Affair, I don't think kids will get the oddness. Now, to be fair, I may be underestimating the 12-year-old British magic fans out there, but it just felt like a grown-up novel slightly whitewashed in order to make it suitable for kids books.
And while the story is passable and somewhat entertaining, I'm not sure that's enough to offset the oddness of the book.