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The Song of the Quarkbeast: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 2 by Jasper FForde

Kazam and Quarkbeasts: a Survival Guide

The Song of the Quarkbeast: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 2 by Jasper FForde (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, ages 10 and up), is reviewed today by Hilary Taber.

“I work in the magic industry. I think you’ll agree it’s a pretty glamorous: a life of spells, potions, and whispered enchantments…if only. No, magic these days is simply useful…” –Jennifer Strange

The Song of the Quarkbeast

The second in the Last of the Dragonslayer series finds us once again at Kazam, an employment agency/living quarters for wizards. Our hero, Jennifer, is once again back home at Kazam, filling in for the mysteriously missing Great Zambini. Her job is to find employment for the strange, but strangely loveable group of wizards under her care. At sixteen, she’s more than competent at dealing with wizards in the fictional setting of the “Ununited Kingdom” who need work, but are not all that well acquainted with a watch. She finds them jobs, but not in “Big Magic” as it was called in the good old days. Although in the last book there was a surge of magic, since then magic or “crackle” as it is referred to in the book is again in short supply. A real energy crisis is taking place, and wizards have been reduced to using magic for very prosaic reasons. Finding jobs for wizards in pizza delivery, bridge building, finding lost things, and so on are what fill Jennifer’s day. Then there is always the official government paper work to fill out after each use of magic. Practical Jennifer and her replacement-in-training, Tiger, are back at Kazam after a particular incident that involved a Dragon, a Quarkbeast, and really, you should read the first book, The Last of the Dragonslayers for more on that adventure! It was a great read!

While life at Kazam is seeming a bit humdrum, suddenly a mysterious woman appears with an offer of a great deal of money in return for a favor. She’s looking for a ring, and not just any ring, but one that doesn’t want to be found. Full of negative magic, the ring resists those who would pursue it, but Lady Mawgon, one of the better and scarier wizards at Kazam, insists on finding it. Kazam is in needs of funds, and no one at Kazam can argue with that.

One thing leads to another, and Kazam finds itself in a most unusual position. While the company is used to protecting wizards, it seems that a certain spell has gone awry. Trying to crack the code of the spell, several wizards end up being turned into stone. If that isn’t enough, Jennifer has her hands full with King Snodd IV and his plans to control magic to his own advantage, a soon-to-be court appointed magician who is as crooked as the day is long, and mysterious sightings of a Quarkbeast in the area. The Quarkbeast is a friend of Jennifer’s in the last book. Well, sort of, and in any case is entirely magical. It is also entirely being hunted. Then, of course, there is the continuing mystery of where the owner of Kazam, The Great Zambini, has disappered to. Luckily, juggling several problems at once is Jennifer’s specialty as manager of Kazam. All of the combined talents at Kazam will need to pull together to keep magic safe for the world, and out of the hands of those who would use it for their own nefarious means.

This book greatly cheered up my day, and is a light, comic read sure to please upper middle grade and young adults readers. Fforde’s fans from his Eyre Affair books will find a younger Thursday Next hero in Jennifer Strange. Those not acquainted with Fforde’s other works will find a delightful adventure awaits them. I am eagerly awaiting the third in the series, and it can’t come too soon for me. If you or someone you love is having a bad day, in great need of some fun, and is/might be a fan of Douglas Adams, then look no further for tongue-in-cheek humor, adventure, plot twists, and yes, a Quarkbeast or two along the way while on a journey to thwart evil! Well, shouldn’t you get going to your local bookstore? After all, there is no true adventure in a book until the reader arrives! Kazam and a Quarkbeast are waiting for you!

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