The Well of Lost Plots

Reviewed: February 20, 2008
By: Jasper FForde
Publisher: New English Library (Hodder & Stoughton)
361 pages, $14.99

When last we left Thursday Next she was hiding out the Well of Lost Plots. The former Spec Ops agent who specialized in solving literary crimes was trying to avoid her enemies and deal with her pregnancy, an adjustment made even harder by the fact that her husband had been retroactively erased from existence by agents of the multinational Goliath Corporation, and Thursday was almost the only person who could even recall that he had ever existed.

Placed under a sort of witness protection program by Jurisfiction, the Bookworld equivalent of the agency she used to work for in our world, Thursday is living between the lines of an unpublished novel called Caversham Heights.

Bookworld, you see, is the place where all literature - complete or not, published or not - comes from. The ideas , plots and characters of every possible piece of fiction have their being there and enter our world through a special process which involves an interface between Bookworld and our world, that interface being, of course, writers.

Something is amiss in Bookworld, however, and it seems to be tied into the impending introduction of UltraWord, the latest upgrade to a series of reading experience modes that has included cave drawings, cuneiform tablets, scrolls, and various iterations of BOOK, including BOOK V8.3, which is the medium through which you are reading this review, even though a newspaper doesn’t make use of such 8.3 features as SpineTitle, Index and other mainstays of this particular ImaginoTransference Operating System (ITOS).

Aside from that, Thursday is under mental assault by Aornis, the sister of Thursday’s dead nemesis, Hades Acheron, who is attempting to eradicate even her memory of her husband.

Okay - that should have given you some idea of what you’re in for when you pick up volume 3 of Fforde’s elaborate fantasy/detective series. The author has come up with a blend of genres which makes use of time travel, fantasy and alternate worlds, all told in a British noir voice that somehow hovers between Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler (who grew up in England and was educated there, even though he made his mark writing about an LA detective named Marlowe).

The publisher has fallen right in with the spirit of the spoof, There’s a note at the front of the book telling you what ITOS has been used in the book, There are ads at the back for various agencies mentioned in the book, as well as a wanted poster for one of the villains and a B&B ad for Rhett and Scarlett’s home at Tara for all you Gone With the Wind fans.

Readers who have enjoyed the work of Tom Holt, Douglas Adams or Terry Prachett should get a kick out of this series, Anyone could enjoy it, but the more widely read you are, the more fun you will have with it.