Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality, (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.
On the front cover, there is a quote from The Wall Street Journal: “Filled with clever wordplay, literary allusion and bibliowit…” that describes this book perfectly. I loved the idea of a literary detective, who has to be so well-versed in literature to be able to discern when a forgery or a literary crime has been committed. Thursday is such a detective. When her uncle invents a machine to allow anyone to step inside a book, Thursday has to help stop the villain who steals the machine and kidnaps Jane Eyre. Because Jane Eyre is written in first person, the book starts unraveling from the point Jane is kidnapped. Thursday takes Jane back into the book where Thursday meets Rochester, and they work together to stop the crime.
I felt the book had a few parts that dragged–there were several scenes where Thursday talks to complete strangers about Shakespeare’s true identity. It felt like the author had done a lot of research on the subject and wanted to make sure it got published. It had nothing to do with the plot, and I just got to the point where I started skipping those sections. I would have rated the book higher if those sections were not included. It slowed the story down.
I loved the idea of being able to step into a book and watch the events unfold in person. There were times when I was young that I wished I could have a picnic with Anne and Gilbert, or walk to the top of the big hill with Betsy, Tacy and Tib. This is a very creative and fun book. Thursday is a character that is easy to relate to, and I found myself cheering her on. I am excited to read more of this series!
Content: Some language
Awards: ALA Alex Award