What can ever be said about a Jasper Fforde book that would make sense to anyone that hasn't read one? This is the second in what is, so far, a two book series about what crime would look like if Nursery Characters lived in the real world. Jack Spratt, the head of the Nursery Crimes Division, investigates several seemingly unrelated crimes: Porridge smuggling, a missing Goldilocks, the escape of the Gingerbread man, and his new car that never ages, with a painting in the boot that does. All while fighting suspension based on a pending psych evaluation after being swallowed by the Big Bad Wolf.
It's not all Mother Goose either, side characters include Spratt's daughter Pandora and her soon to be husband, Prometheus and at least one character from Shakespeare. Oh, and an alien. Because, why not?
In spite of sounding (and mostly being) silly, it's not an easy/breezy book to read. There are layers in the writing and the jokes and the references that are easy to miss. There's a subtle - very subtle - disregard for the fourth wall, where the characters not only recognise they're in a book (a la Thursday Next), but will make subtle reference to the author and the reader. So not only is it a book where the overload of satire is best enjoyed in small doses, but one that if carefully read will give more humorous dividends than a quick read would.
Generally it's just a hell of a lot of fun to read. The puns get punnier towards the end and there was at least one *snort*chuckle in the last 30%. It might have been it was late and I was tired, but
made me laugh.
I read this for the Modern Noir square in Halloween Bingo. It's a gimme for the Grimm Tale square, but I've already read that terrible retelling of Snow White and it's not going to have been for nothing, and Spratt's attitude and methods are definitely noir-ish.
I was going to save this book for Bingo, but I'm hoping to attend a few panels Donna Andrews is on at Bouchcon, and it seemed appropriate to be up to date on my favorite series beforehand.
The story didn't work as well for me as others have, but it did feel edgier, which was a compelling surprise. The criminal suspects are really criminals, and at one point someone shoots at Meg. Not the standard fair for Meg and her eccentric and fabulous family.
Even though I say it's not as strong as others in the series, it's still better than most cozies out there right now. It's definitely the best humorous cozy series you're going to find, and Andrews has the awards to prove it. The plotting is still strong too, even after 22 books - I certainly never came close to guessing the ending.
Opening one of these books is like coming home to your favorite people, where everyone is kind, funny, competent and believes in something bigger than themselves, whether it's family, community, God, or all of the above.
An excellent riff on fairy tales. I'm not actually sure what to say about it beyond that. If you've read any of the discworld books, this one won't disappoint you.
I listened to the audiobook, and Nigel Planer did an excellent job, though I disliked his Magrat and Ella choices; his voices for them both made them sound dull and stupid. On the other hand, I've also listened to other Pratchett books narrated by Celia Imrie and I really disliked her Granny Weatherwax voice; Planer gets Granny just right - she's the crone without hurting your ear drums.
The plays on words are always my favorite part of Pratchett books and Witches Abroad did not disappoint (Emberella = Cinderella). I also loved the we finally saw Granny's magic in a very decisive show; I hope it won't be the only time we see it.
I can't believe how long it took me to read this book. It was my second Elizabeth von Arnim book, after reading Elizabeth and Her German Garden, and i have to say it was harder going at first. Her Adventures in Rügen start off in a much more florid style of writing than she used in German Garden; her verbosity was challenging, to say the least, and I found myself putting the book down and passing it by for days on end. I was determined though, because I had to believe the writing I loved in German Garden would be in there somewhere.
And it was. By the fourth day (page 87), the Elizabeth I had expected started showing up. Coincidentally it was about this time that her idyllic trip round Rügen started to become less idyllic and more comic. By the fifth day (page 115) I was pretty well hooked, and where as the first 115 pages took me three weeks to read, the remaining 185 took just a few days. As the book, and her trip, progress, the writing becomes more concise and the pace ratchets up higher and higher until it reaches its final, devious, and hilarious conclusion. I loved the last two chapters, they had me chuckling regularly, and the ending was absolutely perfect.
A few notes about my copy of this book: I was lucky to find a 1904 copy in beautiful condition that includes a pristine pull out map of Elizabeth's trip. A few things about it made me smile though: the cover title spells the island's name as Ruegen, but everything else in the book uses Rügen. Both are correct (as ue is the alternate for ü), but the inconsistency left me curious about why. Also, my edition's copyright is in the USA, but it states that it is strictly intended for circulation in "India and the British Colonies" only, and the publisher is Macmillan, London. So we have a book written in Germany, printed by a London publisher, copyrighted in the USA, for circulation in India and the colonies.
This is why I love old books.