Book Review: Jasper Fforde’s The Song of the Quarkbeast

Posted January 7, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jasper Fforde’s The Song of the Quarkbeast

The Song of the Quarkbeast

on November 10, 2011 and has 290 pages.

or Amazon.

Second in the Last Dragonslayer fantasy series for children revolving around Jennifer Strange and the very odd inhabitants of Zambini Towers in Hereford in the Kingdom of Snodd.

My Take

This one was much easier to read than The Last Dragonslayer! And just as nonsensical. I love it. Kids will love it. It’s a soap opera of fun as Fforde pokes away at our love for gawking, greed, people in charge, flying carpets, corruption, orphanages as well as the more positive traits of humanity such as love, loyalty, and putting one’s best foot forward. I loved the snark once Prawns comes back to earth. That Lady Mawgon is somethin’ else! All I can say is, it’s a darn good thing that Jennifer is in charge!

I cracked up when Jennifer answered the phone “Pinnochio’s Pizzas” and totally flustered Blix.

I do wonder how Fforde keeps coming up with such silly ideas, names, and yet makes it all work.

Oh man, Zambini has some shocking bits of info for Jenny…!

For such a lighthearted piece, it does get intense as Jennifer desperately searches for a way to survive the Friday morning challenge.

Okay, reading the chapter, “The end of the story”, I got the impression this was, well, the end of this series. Fforde tells us all sorts of epilogue-y kind of stuff and it makes sense that this is the end. Then I turned the page and Jennifer Strange will be in The Return of Shandar. So, what was all that about…?

The Story

Slaying the last dragon in The Last Dragonslayer created Big Magic, a kickstart to begin to bring magic itself back into the world. Unfortunately, it hasn’t made things any easier at Kazam, and Jennifer has pinned her prayers on their bridge restoration project.

Prayers that aren’t being heard once Blix gets down and dirty with the help of the king, who won’t stop trying to pervert the Great Zambini’s vision for magic. Meanwhile, Jennifer is desperate to find the Great Zambini, and Kevin’s predictions just aren’t well, that helpful. Their two best wizards have fallen afoul of Dibble’s Coils while the rest are being hounded by King Snodd and his Chief Advisor.

The Characters

Jennifer Strange is a foundling, gadzooks! Kazam is the magical corporation that the Great Zambini manages. Well, he used to. He disappeared some months ago, and the now-seventeen-year-old Jennifer has been its acting manager ever since. Horton “Tiger” Prawns, Jennifer’s assistant, is the latest purchased foundling.

The Kazam wizards include:
Perkins Perkins is about to test for his magic license. He also wants to date Jennifer. The Amazing Dennis “Full” Price and his brother, David “Half” Price, are “famous as the most unidentical twins on record. The obnoxiously rude Lady [Daphne] Mawgon gets between a rock and, well, a rock. Wizard Gareth Archibald Moobin is experimenting with teleportation. Kevin Zipp is their precog. His Royal Highness Prince Omar Smith Arkwright Ben Nasil is one of their carpeteers (Owen of Rhayder is the other), and Omar is second in line to the Duchy of Portland. The Transient Moose is a something of a holographic image of a moose. Patrick of Ludlow is their Heavy Lifter. The Mysterious X.

Conrad Blix, sorry, the All Powerful Blix, is the sneaky, conniving head of Industrial Magic, renamed iMagic (which “makes it more hip and current”). He has plans to expand his enterprise; and, the king has appointed him Court Mystician. His fellow witches include the Truly Bizarre Tchango Muttney, Dame Corby, and Samantha Flynt, who is a student.

The king’s crew
King Snodd IV is a greedy, stupid, pernicious twat. Fortunately, his wife, Queen Mimosa, is exactly the opposite. The Spoilt Royal children are His Royal Petulantness the Crown Prince Steve and Her Royal Odiousness Princess Shazza. We actually discover that the King’s Useless Brother, who is much more stupid than the king, has a real name: His Eminence Ruprecht Sawduzt Snodd (almost makes UB look good). Lord Tenbury is one of the king’s most trusted advisers and extremely clever, the Useless Brother’s business partner (dang it), and pretty much without morals. Detective Norton and Sergeant Villiers are corrupt cops.

Miss Ann Shard, a.k.a., Miss D’Argento, is a nut. She talks about herself in the third person, and she has something up her sleeve. Mother Zenobia used to do magic, but hasn’t in decades. She’s the mother superior at the orphanage, the Sisterhood of the Blessed Lady of the Lobster. Miss Boolean Smith, a.k.a., the Magnificent Boo, was an incredible witch in her day. Before she was kidnapped and traumatized. Now she works as the Beastmaster (with a special love for quarkbeasts) and the magic adjudicator. Lieutenant Colonel Sir Reginald George Stamford Block-Draine is relentless in hunting down a lone quarkbeast. The Mighty Shandar is the most powerful wizard ever. He comes back to life for a few minutes every few years.

The Cover and Title

The cover is quite fantastical with its torn silver metallic background revealing a collage of the story’s events from Jennifer and Prince Omar sailing through the air on the magic carpet, blocks of stone floating in air, Jennifer’s Volkswagen perched on top of the completed bridge, fireworks exploding, and the claw of a quarkbeast (?) gripping the edge.

The title is perfect, for a select few do indeed hear The Song of the Quarkbeast. And live!