The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (2012)

dragonslayerFantasy meets weird British humor in the first YA offering by a well-loved adult author.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up

Pages:  287 (for ISBN 9780547738475)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, humor, British

Tone/Style: quirky

Pace: moderate

Topics: magic, dragons

Themes: change, responsibility

Summary: In the good old days, magic was indispensable. But now magic is fading: Drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. (Source)

Who will like this book?: This book is going to attract a niche audience. Give it to readers who like both fantasy and humor (both, not  just one or the other). Anglophiles will appreciate the quintissentially British comedy.

Who won’t like this book?: A lot of kids are going to find this too weird. Only certain types of fantasy and humor fans will like it, as its quite different from the norm in either of those genres. (I’m guessing its audience is wider in the UK.)

Other comments: Note that publication dates refer to U.S. publication. Mature-content-wise, this should be fine for younger than 6th graders, but the humor might be a bit over some of their heads.

Sequel(s): The Song of the Quarkbeast (2013), The Eye of Zoltar (2014), an untitled forthcoming novel. Series title: The Chronicles of Kazam)

Readalikes: Sadly I’m not well-versed in weird British humor (which is something I need to fix, stat), so I imagine there are others who could do a better job than me at finding readalikes. Terry Pratchett comes to mind; his Tiffany Aching books (part of the Discworld series) are aimed at young adults. Another quirky dragon story is The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston. The pinnacle of fantasy humor, in my opinion, is The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede.

-Kylie Peters


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