Author: Jasper Fforde
Published: October 2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt & Brilliance Audio
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.While researching this review, I found out that this is a book that was originally published in the UK back in 2010 and that there are 2 more books in The Last Dragonslayer series (The Song of the Quarkbeast, published in 2011 in the UK and The Return of Shandar, which comes out this fall in the UK). I'm kind of excited about this. The Last Dragonslayer totally works on its on as a standalone, but Jasper Fforde has created a fun and truly magical world that left me excited to finally have a new book to recommend to younger and older Harry Potter fans a like.
This was a book that drew me in from the cover alone. It's fun and whimsical and it has an old school Volkswagen Beetle, what more can you ask for? There was also a lot of buzz around the book so this was a book I was excited for before I started listening to the audiobook and I'm happy to report I was not let down!
The Last Dragonslayer is about Jennifer Strange, a fifteen year old foundling, an orphan who's raised at a local convent, who's been put into indentured servitude to Kazam, one of the last remaining employment agencies for magicians. When we meet Jennifer, she's running the slowly dwindling Kazam after the disappearance of it's owner/manager The Great Zambini. The magic in the world is slowly dwindling, so things aren't looking up for Kazam, but Jennifer is trying to make it work the best she can while trying to find the Great Zambini. But what no one expects is a surge of magic and a crazy vision about the last dragon dying at the hands of the last dragonslayer that, could mean big things for Kazam and Jennifer's future.
Several hundred years ago, the Mighty Shandar worked out an agreement between the Ununited Kingdoms and dragons that kept both safe from other by setting large portions of land aside for dragons that are protected by magic. When the dragon dies, the magic stops protecting the land and people are able to snatch it up in an old school land race. So when the visions start spreading across Hereford, the Kingdom that boarders the dragon land, of the death of the last dragon, the people of Hereford start flocking to the dragon land boarders so that they are ready to make their claim when the magical barriers go down. Jennifer quickly finds herself in the middle of all the craziness and is now having to balance more than just running Kazam.
Jasper Fforde has created an amazing fantasy world that looks at corporate greed, the use of dwindling resources and so much more, while still having it be just a fun magical read with amazing characters. Jennifer doesn't really know who she is or where she comes from, and her only tie to her past is the Volkswagen Beetle she was left in and yet, she's strong willed and sees the good in the world and her current situation. She wants to do great things even though she doesn't come from great beginnings. The rest of the characters, from translucent moose to quarkbeasts to wizards to humans, have bask stories and personalities just as wonderful as Jennifer. This is a world a reader can imagine themselves in because there's so much depth and history the reader gets to experience. And side note, I fully intend on putting a transient moose on my birthday/Christmas list this year, I think it will be what every cool kid has in the house come 2014.
I experienced this book through audiobook. If you're looking for a great book to listen to on a family trip, or just a fun read as either your first or 101st audiobook, I highly recommend The Last Dragonslayer. It's will narrated and is a great story in the tradition of stories that should be read aloud. Brilliance Audio has done a great job bringing The Last Dragonslayer to life.
My Overall Rating: