Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I always like spending more time with Thursday Next in her weird and wild world of alternate steampunk historical Britain in the 80's, and if that seems like a lot of adjectives strung together, then you need to take a deep breath before picking up this book. It's jammed full of subplots - so many that I'm not really sure which one I'd call the main plot. Thursday is told by her time traveling father that if Swindon doesn't win the SuperHoop (the world cup of the lawn croquet world) then a chain of events will lead to Armageddon, so there's that. Then there's also a character from fiction set to become the dictator of the UK, and no one can figure out which book he's from. Thursday wants to apprehend him, and his rise to power is supposedly tied to the SuperHoop. Add in Thursday's non-existent husband (a big evil corporation killed him as a child via time travel), Hamlet being stuck in the world of non-fiction while the characters in Hamlet and The Merry Wives of Windsor stage a coup and try to combine the plays, two people out to kill Thursday: a minotaur from fiction and a contract killer called the Windowmaker (due to a mistype in the first set of stationery she ever ordered), Thursday losing her job at SpecOps, a plot to save banned Danish books from being burned, and then some Neanderthal rights issues. Those are the bigger plots. There are also smaller ones, like bringing the President back from death's door and suchlike.
While I do enjoy Fforde's writing, I also miss the relative straightforwardness of The Eyre Affair, which is just a great book. I'm hoping the rest of the books in this series don't keep getting more convoluted (and yes, I know they've all been out for years, I'm slow).