Literary detective Thursday Next lives in the strictly regulated police state of England and spends much of her life struggling under the shadow of crimes of her relatives–her fugitive time-traveling father and her dead brother who allegedly led an ill-fated charge of the Light Brigade that left England and Russia locked in the Crimean War for over a century. But when the manuscript of Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit is stolen by the elusive, murderous, and perhaps insane Acheron Hades, Thursday finds that her own work is almost more than she can handle. After killing several of Thursday’s comrades–and nearly Thursday herself–Hades kidnaps the detective’s uncle and steals his Prose Portal, a unique invention that allows a human to travel into a work of literature. The villain uses it as a means of extortion, kidnapping characters from the original manuscripts of classic works of literature and threatening to murder them–forever altering the literary work–if his monetary demands are not met. For Thursday, this case is beyond personal.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I found the literary allusions hilarious and loved the way they were woven into the plot and this sci-fi world. I also really liked the premise of her father’s work with the ChronoGuard of government time-travelers and wish we had gotten to see more of that. The rest of my book group had more ambivalent feelings about the book. Most enjoyed the literary allusions, but many disliked the sci-fi elements. I don’t think they were fans of sci-fi in general. It is worth noting, however–for any hard sci-fi fans out there–that there is not much description of the “sci” behind the “fi” in this one. Still, I would personally recommend it to anyone who likes quirky mysteries and classic literature. It’s a lot of fun!