This is the third book in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. In this book, Thursday is in the Character Exchange Programme and is in hiding in an out-of-print book replacing a character that will spend some time in the real world. She is going to stay here until her child is born. In the meantime she is studying to be a Jurisfiction agent in the Book World with the help of her mentor Miss Havisham (from Great Expectations). Her grandmother, Gran Next, pops in to make sure that she doesn't lose any memories of her husband because that would indicate an attack by the mnemonomorph Aornis, sister to Acheron Hades, who was killed by Thursday in the first book. Another threat to books everywhere is the introduction of a new program called UltraWord which is supposed to create more than the eight plot lines that all novels derive from.
Whew! That's a lot in one book. Besides all this is the introduction of all sorts of creatures like the "vyrus" which changes the spelling of words with predictably dangerous results. One of my favorite parts was an exchange about the overuse of had had and that that and how it confused the reader too much.
"Take the first had had and that that in the book by way of example," explained Lady Cavendish. "You would have thought that that first had had had had good occasion to be seen as had, had you not? Had had had approval but had had had not; equally it is true to say that that that that had had approval but that that other that that had not."
"So the problem with that other that that was that --?
"That that other-other that that had had approval."
"Okay," said the Bellman, whose head was in danger of falling apart like a chocolate orange, "Let me get this straight: David Copperfield, unlike Pilgrim's Progress, which had had had, had had had had. Had had had had TGC's approval?"
There was a very long pause.
I put Jasper Fforde in the same high realm as J.K. Rowling and Terry Pratchett for his ability to create a new world with original creatures and physics, he is that good.
My rating for this book: ++++