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    Review of SOMETHING ROTTEN by Jasper Fforde (see his website)


    Viking, August 2004

    Jurisfiction Bellman Thursday Next is taking a break from the fictional world to attend to some business in the real world--most importantly, to get back her eradicated husband, Landen, and to straighten out some charges pending against her at SpecOps. But the trip is hardly a vacation, as one responsibility after another gets piled onto her shoulders--not the least of which is capturing escaped fictional character Yorrick Kaine, who is trying to have himself elected dictator of England. Kaine has joined forces with the mega-evil corporation Goliath, which is trying to have itself declared a religion. Add to Thursday's problems a revitalized 13th-century saint, who has predicted the end of the world if the severely incompetent Swindon Mallets don't win the SuperHoop croquet championship. Oh, and one more tiny complication: Hamlet has become hopelessly enmeshed with the Merry Wives of Windsor, and unless Thursday can come up with a Shakespeare clone to unravel the mess, the world will be stuck with a play called the Merry Wives of Elsinore which takes a long time to get funny and then everyone dies.

    It's hard to even begin to describe how incredibly funny this book is. If you haven't read the precursors, probably nothing I've written here will make much sense. It's a fictional world inside a fictional world that is like nothing I've ever read, an alternate reality where dodo birds and Neanderthals have been re-engineered but ducks are extinct; where jets have never been invented and people routinely travel by airship and super-fast trains that go straight through the earth; and where Winston Churchill died as a toddler. Every paragraph brings a new opportunity for laughter, and all the dozens of story threads become hopelessly snarled, only to be straightened out brilliantly in the end. I'm sure I don't get even half the literary references, but it doesn't matter. I just keep hungrily turning pages and mourning the end of the book, knowing I'll probably have to wait a year for the next installment.

    See more reviews of novels by Jasper Fforde.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 9/26/04

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