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    Review of THE EYRE AFFAIR by Jasper Fforde (see his website)


    Viking, January 2002 (U.S.)

    When a valuable original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit is stolen, LiteraTec Operative Thursday Next is after the thief--a brilliant former professor of hers who went terribly, terribly bad. Acheron Hades has mysterious powers over his enemies. Bullets bounce off of him. In short, he is just about the most evil man on earth, and soon to be the most powerful. For his plan isn't just to sell the manuscript or hold it for ransom. Thanks to a device invented by Thursday's uncle, Hades can actually kidnap characters from the original manuscript--even kill them--rendering every copy of the novel virtually blank or hideously corrupted.

    When the Chuzzlewit manuscript burns, Hades sets his sights on Jane Eyre, kidnapping Jane and causing the novel to end abruptly in the middle. Thursday must chase Hades into the novel herself. Aided by her time-traveling fugitive father, a couple of loyal fellow agents, a corporation bent on world domination, and even Rochester himself, she matches wits with the most diabolical villain I've seen in a long time. But her interference in the novel's fabric has unintended results, which are beautiful to behold as the ending unfolds.

    The Eyre Affair is a fantasy novel like none I've ever read. It's set in the recent past (1985) in England, but because of the alternate history established by the author, the setting is hardly recognizable. The Crimean war is still raging after 130 years, time travel and gene splicing are routine, no one has ever heard of Winston Churchill (he died as a child), and people travel by blimp rather than jet. England and Wales are separated by something like the Berlin Wall. And everywhere, people take literature very seriously. Fans of various authors and poets form special-interest groups with political aspirations and sometimes terrorist plots. Literary crimes such as forgery and plagiarism require an entire section of Special Operations devoted to capturing offenders.

    Author Jasper Fforde (see more reviews of novels by Fforde) just has an incredible imagination, with delights on every page, well-rounded characters, and even a nifty romance. This is one of the best books I've read this year, and I the others in the series (there are four so far) are on my shopping list.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/13/04

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