Gregory Kirschling
August 06, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Something Rotten

Current Status
In Season
Jasper Fforde

We gave it a B

When Starbucks tries to open another coffee shop — its 17th — within the pages of the Hardy Boys series, Thursday Next cracks down. She’s the literary detective keeping the peace in this fourth installment of Jasper Fforde’s hyper-imaginative sci-fi comedy series Something Rotten, set in an England where everybody is jumping in and out of books. Facing off against an evil ”escaped fictionaut” named Yorrick Kaine, Next must find a cloned Shakespeare, pronto (or else ”Hamlet” is lost forever), and help the good guys win a climactic match of a Quidditch-y game called SuperHoop (or else thermonuclear war ensues). Fforde has churned this quartet of books out at a clip — the first, ”The Eyre Affair,” hit in 2002 — and the essential one-jokeness of the premise is starting to show. But he compensates with enough furious daft invention to sate his cult fan base.

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