Adventures in Bookland: The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

The Song of the Quarkbeast
The Song of the Quarkbeast

What is the song of an imaginary creature? Admittedly, the creature in question is a (metaphorical) mixture of velociraptor, knife block (with the knives all sticking blade up) and labrador, so not the most obvious candidate for song, but the question stands. Well, it turns out, rather than the sparking clash of metal, or the grind of tooth on bone, the song of the Quarkbeast is enchanting: yearning, lonely, and ever reaching towards a barely glimpsed and often receding, yet certainly there, consummation. Unfortunately, in a curious nod towards MAD (mutually assured destruction/desire) the Quarkbeast sings only when its twin approaches, and union with said anti-twin will bring absolute destruction, as when an electron and positron meet.

This is unfortunate for the Quarkbeast. It’s also unfortunate for anyone else within a mile or two. But it’s good for the reader. Jasper Fforde’s invention drive, which was revving nicely in the first volume of the series without getting much second gear, begins to pick up speed in this second book of The Chronicles of Kazam. And, after all, this is what we read Fforde for: invention, imagination, wordplay and dreadful puns (not so much character development). As with Thursday Next, where the Fforde invention drive (or FID for short) took until the second or third volume in the series to really kick into overdrive, so with The Chronicles of Kazam: after a few jerks and shudders in the first book, the story is really beginning to rev up nicely here and I anticipate the third and fourth will explode into the inventosphere. Three and a half stars for this one and anticipating four for the next.


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