The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1. By Jasper Fforde. 7 CDs. 7:31 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4558-5828-6. $49.97.
Gr 4-8–Once magic was powerful and very useful, but as the dragons have been dying off, it has been fading. Now its powers are only used for mundane purposes such as rewiring houses or delivering pizzas by magic carpet. With the prediction of the death of the last dragon by Kazam Mystical Arts Management’s seers, 15-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange, the agency’s acting director, is suddenly sent headlong into events that will change her life and the lives of all in the UnUnited Kingdoms. Little does she know the role she is destined to play in the dragon’s death or in the coming of what is known as Big Magic. Suddenly Jennifer becomes known as the Last Dragonslayer, and is fighting off commercial endorsements and driving the armored Slayermobile while trying to avoid a war between her kingdom and the neighboring duchy. While this all seems very dark and ominous, Fforde keeps the puns and humor flowing, and populates the tale (Harcourt, 2012) with outrageous individuals and fantastic creatures. The plot is engaging, and Jennifer is a mature and well-developed character whose intelligence, strong morals, and ingenuity help her through some very difficult decisions. Elizabeth Jasicki channels the book’s wittiness impeccably, and presents each character with just the right voice and accent, from polite Jennifer to the gruff, wizened Maltcassian the Dragon. Listeners will be captivated by this first title in a trilogy and will eagerly await the further adventures of Jennifer, her pet quarkbeast, and her assistant, Tiger Prawns.–MaryAnn Karre,West Middle School, Binghamton, NY