The Last Dragonslayer
Harcourt Children’s Books
2012 (this week, actually!)
Published in the U.K. in 2010*
*I read the UK version of this book at least a year ago (pictured below–and a much more exciting cover it is, too), wondered why I hadn’t seen many reviews of it, and didn’t realize until THIS WEEK that it’s only JUST NOW coming out in the United States. Man. England gets all the fun books first (ahem, Lulu and the Duck in the Park…when will we get the REST of THAT series?). But I digress.
My husband and I have long been fans of Fforde’s irreverent Thursday Next Series. It is not for those squeamish over language and bad puns (don’t listen to it aloud in the car if you have impressionable children along…), but if you enjoy good bibliosatire and bibliowit, check it out. We personally find it hilarious and the more well read you are, the more you will enjoy it. Fforde doesn’t offer any explanations for his characters; rather, he’ll just announce the odd relationship between Falstaff and Mrs. Tiggywinkle and leave you to chuckle.
But this review is about his latest venture for youth: The Last Dragonslayer. Book two in the series, The Song of the Quarkbeast, is already out in the UK (of course it is), and I have a connection who’s going to let me borrow it next week. ☺
Here’s the Goodreads summary: In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.
The Last Dragonslayer is witty, absurd, bizarre, and hilarious–especially if you are up on your fantasy. In true Fforde style, this book is a satirical fantasy. The ending is quite post modern and unsettling, turning the tales on the usual “power of love” and “love conquers all” theme that frequently motivates our fantastic heroes to sacrifice all for the good. Throughout the book, Fforde pokes fun at fantasy tropes and motifs, gives us his typical round of fascinating characters, and provides a thoroughly enjoyable read. I particularly enjoyed the statue of St. Jeremy the Probably Fictitious. (chuckle, chuckle, snort)
The Last Dragonslayer is not one of my usual Truth/Story fantasy recommendations. At least in book 1, the theme of redemption is sketchy at best. When read as a satire, though, it is enjoyable and enlightening. If you have avid high fantasy fans in your home, try this out with them as an exercise in humor and satire. Note: although the protagonist is a girl, this is definitely not a girly, princess-y book.
To whet your appetite, check out Fforde’s Last Dragonslayer book trailer
Recommended for upper middle grades and young adult
Book borrowed from a friend; cover images and summary from goodreads
Any other satires and witty books you can recommend to us?