The Low Down: Jennifer Strange is a foundling brought up by the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster. Being a foundling, at age 12 she was assigned to the Great Zambini as an indentured servant until she turns 18. Ever since Zambini disappeared, she has been running the business of Kazam Mystical Arts Management in his place. These days, magic is heavily regulated, which includes licenses and lots of paperwork. They stay afloat while their employees earn their keep by rewiring houses, delivering pizza and removal of garden gnomes – all by magic, of course.
Then Kevin Zipp, one of the sorcerers who works at Kazam, has a premonition that the last remaining dragon, Maltcassion, will die most certainly at the hands of the Dragonslayer. Dragons have lived in peace alongside humans for the last 400 years due to the Dragonpact, a document that decreed that dragons could remain in the various Dragonlands locations. The dragons would be supplied with cows and sheep for eating, but in return, they would promise to stay on the lands and leave people alone.
Each time the last dragon dies in an area, the land is open for anyone to claim. This causes a certain level of hysteria and land-grabbing, as you may imagine. The area where Maltcassion the dragon lives is the last remaining parcel, so ever since the death prediction, people have been camping out near the boundary, waiting for his death. The only humans that can pass the boundary without being eliminated in a puff of smoke are the Dragonslayer and his assistant. When Jennifer goes looking for the Last Dragonslayer, what she finds surprises her: he has been waiting for many years so he can hand over the mantle…to Jennifer.
After meeting with the dragon, getting an apprentice to train, fielding proposals of marriage, dealing with various companies who want her to shill for their products and having a showdown with King Snodd, Jennifer knows what she has to do. But does she have the time and support?
Best Thang ‘Bout It: For those of you who have read Jasper Fforde’s adult Thursday Next series, you will undoubtedly recognize the silliness that inhabit his books. He loves to rewrite history, make up goofy names and abilities, funny backstories and fantastical beasts.
I’m Cranky Because: While the absurdity certainly makes for wonderfully entertaining books, it does keep you from having a deep attachment to the characters. For me, that may have worked better in the Thursday Next series than in this book. This is not to say that the characters, especially the main ones, aren’t completely likable or worthy of your reading time and attention, not at all. I just wish there had been a little more to the story than I was given. It sounds like this is going to be a series, so maybe that will help us get to know the characters better.
Should You?: King Snood commands you to read it, though you should make up your own mind about it. Just don’t tell him.
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde was published on October 2, 2012 by Harcourt Childrens’ Books.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Fantasy
Ages: 12 and up