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Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: THE SONG OF THE QUARKBEAST by Jasper Fforde

Title: The Song of the Quarkbeast
Author: Jasper Fforde
Pub info: HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013
Genre: MG fantasy, 289 pp

Having just finished The Last Dragonslayer, I had to move on to The Song of the Quarkbeast, the second book in Fforde's Chronicles of Kazam series. It was just as much fun as the first.

Goodreads summary:
Long ago, magic began to fade, and the underemployed magicians of Kazam Mystical Arts Management have been forced to take any work their sixteen-year-old acting manager, Jennifer Strange, can scare up. But things are about to change. Magical power is finally on the rise, and King Snodd IV, of the Ununited Kingdoms knows that he who controls magic controls everything. Only one person stands between Snodd and his plans for a magic-grab--and that's Jennifer.

Yet even smart and sensible Jennifer would have trouble against these powers-that-be. The king and his cronies will do anything to succeed--including ordering a just-might-be-rigged contest between Kazam and iMagic, Kazam's only competitor in the magic business. With underhanded shenanigans afoot, how can Kazam possibly win?

Whatever happens, one this is certain: Jennifer Strange will not relinquish the noble powers of magic without a fight.
Status: finished 3/19/14

My impressions:
Last week I reviewed the first book in the Chronicles of Kazam, and this novel is a fantastic follow-up. With the world-building securely in place and our already-beloved characters ready for action, this book proceeds more smoothly than #1 and gives us a bit more substance to chew on alongside the humor. There's plenty of action, too, if not quite as much magic. And I can't lie that I was overjoyed to see the word Quarkbeast in the title, considering some plot points from Book #1 that I won't reveal here. I loved learning more about Kazam's wizards as well as the fascinating origins of the Quarkbeast itself.

And here's a perhaps oft-overlooked plus: Jasper writes wonderful, believable, strong female characters. While that perhaps shouldn't be a big deal, it is--because not enough male writers can pull it off. Kudos!

Finally, one of the things I love best about these books is the extent to which the reader's imagination is engaged: It's up to you to imagine exactly what a Quarkbeast looks like, and yet I have a clear picture of it in my mind, just like I know precisely what Jennifer, Tiger, and the Transient Moose look like. And I love them all.

About Jasper Fforde:
Jasper Fforde is a novelist living in Wales. He is the son of John Standish Fforde, the 24th Chief Cashier for the Bank of England, whose signature used to appear on sterling banknotes. His published books include a series of novels for adults starring Thursday Next, including The Eyre Affair (2001) and  Lost in a Good Book (2002). Jasper also writes the Nursery Crimes series for adults, in which Detective Jack Spratt solves crimes inflicted by and upon nursery-rhyme characters (The Big Over Easy, 2005). The third book in the Chronicles of Kazam is called The Eye of Zoltar and is coming in October. (Note: Pub dates are for the USA releases; Fforde's books release earlier in the UK.)

Visit Jasper's very busy website here for fun stuff and news about his books and appearances. His Twitter page is here, and you can find him here on Facebook.

Want to win a free copy of this book? Next week I'm giving away your choice of the 5 books I reviewed during Middle Grade March Madness (oh yeah, and one adult novel too). Pick your fave, enter, and win!


To follow my progress as I bulldoze my way through a stack of 51 to-be-reads this year, search for the tag 2014 TBR Shelf. Read all the reviews here.

And be sure to visit Shannon Messenger's blog to see more fun links to great middle-grade reads and giveaways!


  1. You have managed to put both of these books at the top of my must read list. The characters sound fantastic (Yes, I'm sure to infuse many leadership qualities for girls in my stories, so there is hope!). The author has a very interesting background that led him to this point in his writing career.

    1. Writers come from so many different directions, don't they? I'm sure you'll enjoy these books, Greg! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I've already added The Last Dragonslayer to my list, and now I'm nudging it a little higher. Thanks for that! And I just gotta say it--wow, what a cover! lol

    Happy MMGM!

  3. I loved Fforde's Eyre Affair and Lost in a Book! I saw these recently and was excited that he's doing a series for kids now too. Will definitely be checking these out--no one does fantasy and humor quite like Fforde.

  4. This certainly has captured my interest. Thanks for the review.