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. – Goodreads
I have a love/hate relationship with Jasper Fforde novels. I love them, but I hate how much they make me think. I know, I know, such a problem! But when one is in grad school, they want to read for fun! Not for thought! This happens to be one of his books that I fell in love with. I love the world he built and I want more of it now.
This is the story of Jessica Strange, a teenager who lives in an alternate-world 21st century. She works at Kazam, an agency that uses magicians to do the odd jobs around the Kingdom of Hereford. Kingdom of Hereford is located in present day England, which is broken up into small kingdoms that are ruled by commerce more than anything else. Wizards are forced to hire themselves out for small home repairs and any work they can get in general. Thankfully, Jessica can help them out. Jessica has been running Kazam since the disappearance of her boss, Mr. Zambini. How is a teenager running a store all by herself you ask? Jessica is an indentured orphan who is wise beyond her years and actually likes to work in Kazam.
Jessica lucks out by getting an apprentice, Tiger Prawns, just about the time she gets a fairly lucrative opportunity in her life. She will be given a nice sum of money if she can predict the date the Last Dragonslayer will kill Maltcassion, the last dragon in the land. Slight problem with this, the dragon has done nothing wrong and oh yeah, Jessica happens to be the dragonslayer. Jessica has no interest in ruining this beautiful land so they can build more condos. But what about that lucrative deal? What’s best for Big Magic?
This is an interesting tale by Fforde, mostly because this is one of his first novels in the YA world. He excels at adult science fiction and this isn’t yet the same quality as his adult novels. Yet Fforde creates an amazing vibrant fantasy world. I wanted more of it, even though in my brain I already had an awesome visual of it. I also love and adore Jessica and her journey, though there are things I would have liked to change: Jessica having more friends to help her, etc. I like that this was a journey she made on her own. It’s nice to see a strong, female, teenager in a YA book.