Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde you could also label fantasy and satire, but with a strong element of crime stories. Many of his stories take place in some sort of England, but within a different reality, or at least with a different history.

First, there are  is the “Thursday Next” series – six novels featuring a female police detective called Thursday Next, who in the first book discovers that she is able to pass from our reality into the reality of books. The book world is a cosmos of its own with sometimes strange rules, and Thursday unwillingly becomes a hero, saving both her world as well the world of books from several villains.

What I love about this series is the mixture of alternate history (it is fun to gradually find out what part is the same as ours, what is different) and a lot of reference to literature. People who aren’t heavy readers (and also know their classics) miss out on a lot of funny references. I enjoyed the series a lot, although I have to say that for me the last books were not the strongest. To be honest, I would prefer if Jasper Fforde would grant Thursday a rest and go on writing the sequel to “Shades of Grey” (see below).

Second we have the “Nursery Crime” series – crime stories connected with old nursery stories like Humpty Dumpty, Goldilocks etc. Fun to read, but I like the other series more.

Then there is the “Dragonslayer” trilogy, of which only two parts have been completed yet. It seems to take place in Britain too – were it not for all the magic, dragons and alternate history… The heroine is a young orphan who ends up being not only the de-facto manager of a magical agency, but also the ‘last dragonslayer’. I like this one a lot – waiting for the third part!!

The fourth and my absolute favourite is “Shades of Grey” (published before the “50 shades” book that now so annoyingly clutters up all google searches on the topic!). Again the setting is some sort of England – but a very alien one. The society is built up on the ability to see different parts of the colour spectrum, since the people living there do not have our full vision. They also cannot see in the dark. Some sort of event that shaped the society is mentioned frequently, but not explained. It is also not clear if the people are descendants of our society, or some sort of genetically engineered beings, since everyone has a barcode on his fingers. In this society you basically are, what you see: a purple (very powerful), a red, a blue, a green, a yellow, or, if you are unlucky, a grey, who has not enough ability in any part of the spectrum to qualify for a colour. – The society described is a rather hard one, and as one follows the hero’s story (he is a red), the secrets one learns are even more cruel. At the end of the book the author promises a second part – which I have been longing to read ever since.

Again, if you want more structured information, please see for example the Wikipedia page of Jasper Fforde.

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