Staff Pick: The Well of Lost Plots
In this delicious sequel to The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book , Fforde’s redoubtable (and now throwing-up-pregnant) heroine Thursday Next once again does battle with philistine bibliophobes, taking a furlough from her duties as a SpecOps Literary Detective to vacation in the Well of Lost Plots, the 26 noisome sub-basements of the Great Library. Pursued by her memory-modifying nemesis Aornis Hades, Thursday joins Jurisfiction’s Character Exchange Program, filling in for “Mary,” sidekick to the world-weary detective hero of Caversham Heights , a hilariously awful police procedural. At the imminent launch of UltraWord, the vaunted “Last Word” in Story Operating Systems, Thursday’s friend and mentor Miss Havisham is gruesomely killed, and Thursday gamely sets out to restore order to her underground world, where technophiles ruthlessly recycle unpublished books and sell plot devices and stock characters on the black market. Meanwhile, Aornis is doing her fiendish worst to make Thursday forget Landen, her missing husband and father of her child. If this all sounds a bit confusing, it is—until the reader gets the hang of Fforde’s intricate mix of parody, social satire and sheer gut-busting fantasy. Marvelous creations like syntax-slaughtering grammasites and the murderous Minotaur roam this unusual novel’s pages, and Fforde’s fictional epigraphs, like his minihistory of “book operating systems,” are worth the cover price in themselves. Fforde’s sidesplitting sendup of an increasingly antibookish society is a sheer joy.