by Jasper Fforde
The Well of Lost Plots
Viking, February, 2004.
Hardcover, 376 pages.
In this third installment of the wild and witty series began in The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book, Jurisfiction agent in training and real world SpecOps Literary Detective Tuesday Next (she's currently on leave from SpecOps) is in need of a vacation after her last case, in which she at least temporarily defeated arch villain Archeron Hades and the Goliath Corporation. In Tuesday's alternative reality world people are simply mad for books and Tuesday herself has the ability to "read herself in" to any book she wishes. Tuesday decides to take her vacation in the Well of Lost Plots, one of the subbasements of the Great Library, where all published fiction is stored. All books are actually created in the Well of Lost Plots, though most never make it up to the Great Library. Through the Character Exchange Program, Tuesday takes up residence in a pedestrian crime thriller where she takes on the stock role of a woman named Mary. She has lots of time to carry out her Jurisfiction duties, so long as she shows up to say her character's lines. (And if this doesn't make the least bit of sense to you, your best bet is to purchase and read The Eyre Affair before proceeding any further). Alas, Tuesday's vacation time is cut short when she is called into action by Miss Haversham to investigate a murder. But the Well of Lost Plots is a very dangerous place. Deadly grammasites rip through stories, changing the meaning of text and characters or transforming them into something else entirely, the terrifying mispeling vyrus can turn a mop into a map at a moment's notice, and dreadful books (like the one where Tuesday has been living) can be dumped into the Text Sea at any time. When the ruling powers of the BookWorld prepare to release UltraWord, "the ultimate reading experience," Tuesday realizes that something is dreadfully wrong in BookWorld, something that could destroy all fiction.
After Jasper Fforde's first two books, one wondered where Fforde could possibly go next. Could he outdo himself? Apparently, such fears were unfounded, for The Well of Lost Plots is the best Tuesday Next book yet. The pace is frenetic and the literary allusions fly thick and fast in this extremely funny, witty and imaginative novel. Thursday Next is still an appealing heroine who successfully completes all her wild assignments, from managing nursery-rhyme characters on strike to conducting anger-management sessions for the main characters of of Wuthering Heights, to spotting the black market sale of plot devices (a favorite: the old "Suddenly a shot rang out!). In an effort to synchronize the UK and US publication schedules, Fforde's next book, Something Rotten will be published in August, 2004, making for a double treat for those that love a good literary feast.
--Claire E. White
The Well of Lost Plots is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the March-April, 2004 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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