Jasper Fforde: The Eyre Affair

Read by Susan Duerden

I loved it immediately. This is the 4th recommendation from @bklynlibrary and I’m 100% sure that this was a direct result of my having mentioned that Gaiman’s Anansi Boys was a favorite. Fantasy and sci-fi are effortlessly woven into a special ops story set in 1980s England.

As soon as the recording started, I knew I was in trouble. “A Thursday Next Novel” it said. A series?! I wasn’t ready for a series and I have a number of other books to read before I’ll be able to get to the other books. And I am eager to get to them–I finished this in two days. That’s a first for audiobooks.

In The Eyre Affair, we hitch a ride on the shoulders of Thursday Next as she gets helped and hindered in her hunt down of the 3rd most dangerous man alive. Next, ex-military, is a Special Operations Detective belonging to the 27th division–Literary Detectives, nicked LiteraTecs. With an ever-colorful cast of characters popping in and out of the narrative, the mission meets a perfect mix of intriguing and entertaining complications.

More about Next… She was an excellent solider and is a fine detective. She’s brave in that she does things that she knows crosses the many lines drawn, but needs to be done for better or for worse. She’s pretty sure of herself in that when she calls someone a “little shit”, she’s not posturing or trying it on for size. As a general rule, she doesn’t have time for nonsense. But she’s not all brass knuckles and violations. She has a heart, a troubled one, over many things. She isn’t always right and she has conflicts that go beyond her job and she deals with all of them like a human being–sometimes confident, sometimes hesitant, and oftentimes both in respect to and regardless of the consequences.

A force such as Next needs a formidable foe or foes to keep her on her toes. At the top of the list is a character that proves that you can write a villain who is evil for the sake of being evil without him being flat. He is a man who can hear his name across the uncountable distance, Acheron Hades. Next’s former professor and well-hated criminal mastermind is a man of many mysteries; many of which are never explained. He’s so slimy that you’ll grow to feel like a shower is in order after you hear him speak, but he’s a clever one and earns his place. Though I am curious about who beat him to 2nd and 1st place.

There’re so many more interesting characters like family and colleagues and exes and frenemies, but I won’t go on.

But, before I just go, a bit about the world of Thursday Next… It’s filled with so many wondrous things that some of them even come off as mundane, just your every day fare. And they are. There’s time travel and cloning and neither are new or strange undertakings. England is obsessed with literature–even moreso and to such a degree that there are the aforementioned LiteraTecs whose duties range from protecting the rarities to stamping out fraud. I mean, rare manuscripts have the power of currency and the whole nation goes up in arms at the threat of the loss or alteration of one. Shakespeare’s Richard III is a cult spectacle in the same way Rocky Horror Picture Show is. The dodo is a live and well and there’s medication– à la insulin shot–for vampirism. It’s marvelous.

I fully intend to continue the series, but as I said, I have other books to read first. Though, in the meantime, I’ll be plotting ways to justify taking a detour from my set reading list.

Six down, 46~ to go.

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