The Well of Lost Plots is the third of the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. Having changed the ending of Jane Eyre, ended the Crimean war and had her husband, Landen Parke-Laine eradicated by the ChronoGuard, Thursday has joined Jurisfition and is currently taking a break, for the duration of her pregnancy, through the Character Exchange Program, inside a mediocre detective novel in the Well of Lost Plots. However, what she thinks will be a quiet sojourn is anything but, with Aornis Hades, sister of Acheron, out to take revenge for her brother’s death by altering Thursday’s memories, the detective novel under threat of demolition, the murder of a Jurisfiction agent, the escape of the Minotaur, Jurisfiction exams to take, the spread of the mispeling vyrus, a Rage Counselling session for the characters of Wuthering Heights, her fiction infraction trial coming up, the imminent launch of the new (and very Kindle-like) UltraWordTM and Nursery Rhyme characters on strike for better conditions. Miss Havisham continues to mentor her apprentice, and one-hundred-and-eight-year-old Granny Next comes to help Thursday out.
Fforde’s plot is highly original and imaginative. He shows us that politics, corruption and error as well as red tape and bureaucracy in their most irritating and frustrating forms thrive no matter which version of the world one inhabits. Junk mail and African money scams plague Fforde’s version of the world too. Parasites, pests, acronyms and lofty-sounding names in officialdom also abound: an ImaginoTransference Device is, of course, a word. Fforde endows his characters with some hilarious names, gives us some comical book titles and his dialogue will have the reader snickering and often laughing out loud. The prefaces at the start of each chapter include handy Fforde-type explanations of the rules under which fiction exists, how books are actually written, plot recycling and some history of storytelling, writing and printing. We also learn about Literary Mechanisms like Plot Devices, Echolocators, Chapter-Ending Emporiums, Backstories built-to-order, Generic Characters and the Text Sea. In this instalment we finally discover what really happened in the Crimea with Thursday, Landen and Anton during the Charge of the Light Armoured Brigade in 1973. Fforde’s writing strikes me as a cross between that of Terry Pratchett and the late Douglas Adams, and, as these are two of my favourite authors, from me this is high praise indeed. Readers will look forward to the next instalment, Something Rotten.