cover image Song of the Quarkbeast

Song of the Quarkbeast

Jasper Fforde. Harcourt, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-547-73848-2

“Big Magic,” which had been in serious decline in the Ununited Kingdom, returned at the end of The Last Dragonslayer, the first installment in Fforde’s Chronicles of Kazam. Now that magical power is on the rise again, the despotic King Snodd IV hopes to cash in, specifically by putting the wizards who work at Kazam Mystical Arts Management under his control by proposing they merge with iMagic, the rival house led by the Amazing Blix, a questionable character with a new royal appointment: Court Mystician. “Over our dead bodies,” pretty much sums up the Kazam staff’s reaction, and no one is more resolute than 16-year-old Jennifer Strange, the foundling who has been running Kazam since the Great Zambini’s disappearance. Challenged to a magic duel that will decide their fate, Jennifer and her (mostly) lovable cast of misfits must rely more on wits than on wands to preserve their independence. It’s not essential to have read the first book to enjoy this one, but those who enjoyed the witty wordplay and whacked-out humor of The Last Dragonslayer will find the same delights in this sequel. Ages 10–14. (Sept.)