The Song of the Quarkbeast (Dragonslayer #2)
Jasper Fforde
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013
(originally published in the UK in 2011)*

*I’m one of the privileged few who got to read this second book before it came out in the U.S. I have a connection who is also a big Jasper Fforde fan, and she buys his books from the U.K. and then loans them to me! But for those of you not so fortunate, know that this book just came out here in the ol’ U.S. of A.

First, let me assert once again that the U.S. covers of these books are a bit subpar in “oomph” when compared with their Anglo cousins. (Although the paperback version of The Last Dragonslayer is far superior to the hardback.)

Second, let me say that you must, you absolutely must, read The Last Dragonslayer before reading this book–or even this review. If you haven’t read that book, then at least read my review of it. Otherwise, what I’m about to tell you will make no sense whatsoever.

We meet up with Jennifer Strange and the other oddballs at Kazam right away, and we are also immediately plunged into the action. King Snodd IV is up to no good (as usual), and he has hatched a nefarious plan to control Magic (thus controlling the world). iMagic (big business) and Kazam (small business), as the two primary workers of Magic, are pitted against each other in a contest. The fate of the planet seemingly hangs in the balance, and King Snodd is not playing fair. He has rigged the contest…or so it would seem.

Thankfully, those strange Quarkbeasts come into play again along with ancient Magical forces. Thanks to Jennifer’s quick thinking, her sidekick Tiger Prawns, a Transient Moose whose special talent is finally realized, a pair of Quarkbeasts, and various and sundry other strange characters, big business doesn’t carry the day.

This is a quick read, a very quirky one (what did you expect? It’s Fforde!), and a satisfying one. I liked the ending very much (more than the ending to the first book, that’s for sure). It’s not quite as good overall as the first book, but only slightly less so. If you’re a Jasper Fforde fan and/or relish quirky fantasy, then this series is a winner. If you read and enjoyed The Last Dragonslayer, then you must read this book! Fforde’s snarky wit and clever storytelling is so much to fun to read.

Recommended for 12 and up. Book from my friend; cover image from publisher’s website.

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