Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Review: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

I know what you're all thinking, and yes, it is true - I am about to review a *ahem* fantasy novel. A fantasy novel for the young adult market, no less.

But fear not, I have not yet taken leave of my senses, for it is a fantasy novel for the young adult market by Jasper Fforde, and as eagle-eyed readers may have spotted, that qualifier was enough to sell me on the YA fantasy novel bit.

Being for the younger market, it's shorter than your average Thursday Next novel, and a much fluffier affair than Shades of Grey, but definitely retains the flavour of a Ffordian world.

It also has as its protagonist a wise-cracking teenage girl who unexpectedly discovers that she is the last in a long line of slayers, so, you know, comparisons are bound to be come to mind - except, possibly, to the teenage target audience who might only know Buffy as some obscure old skool vampire show that knocks around on the daytime TV schedules.

But I digress. The Last Dragonslayer is set in the unUnited Kingdom, a dystopian land of faded magic, agency Wizards and Fizzy Pop, where the last dragon still lives safely in the no-mans land between the kingdoms of Hereford and Brecon - until, that is, the Last Dragonslayer is summoned...

You get the picture. Essentially this is the origin story of Jennifer Strange, Dragonslayer; but it is also the origin story of a world which, in the rest of the trilogy, will be changed because of her actions. Whether that world turns out just to be Hogwarts with jokes remains to be seen (at least by me). It certainly could go that way, were it not for that qualifier again: 'by Jasper Fforde', which of course means it is far more likely to turn into Buffy meets Monty Python, and what's not to love there?

So, yes, it's a YA novel, so it's not as deep or as dark as Shades of Grey, the characters are not as well formed as Thursday Next (at least not yet), and there is of course a coming of age theme (none of which are bad things, unless you really dislike YA novels or a quick, easy read). Yes, it's a fantasy novel, with magic, dragons, quarkbeasts and so on. But above all, it is a Jasper Fforde novel, with the brilliantly imagined world, surreal Ffordian humour, and those special features tucked away in the dusty corners of the author's website. Definitely one to add to any comic fantasy bookshelf.


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