The short version of this review: these books are by Jasper Fforde, so they are great.
Those of you needing more persuasion…
When I began reading the first book in this series, The Last Dragonslayer, I was a bit nervous. Here was my favorite mystery/sci-fi author venturing into the dangerous realm of juvenile fiction. However, these books present the same nuanced characters, engaging plots, and surprising moments that characterize his other works.
As usual, one of Fforde’s strongest points (aside from making brilliant puns) is his ability to build fascinating, bizarre, worlds. The details of the Ununited Kingdoms, with it’s strange laws, inexplicable magical creatures, and problematic cackle shortage, gives Fforde’s characters a wonderful realm to adventure in. Even if there aren’t quite as many absurd puns intermingled through the text as I might prefer.
As YA lit, these books are great for readers who enjoy a bit of nonsensical adventure with a touch of magic. The characters face a number of trials, physical, emotional, and moral in nature, but Fforde keeps his books from handing out heavy morals or blunt analogies.
It doesn’t feel like one should relate to any of the characters. The only expectation is that the reader will enjoy the reading.