Combining locked-room thefts, real-life book exploration, time travel, literary battles, burping bookworms and re-generated dodos, “The Eyre Affair” is like Douglas Adams crossed with Terry Pratchett, with the best classical literary writers in the English language thrown in for good measure. Mr. Fforde’s work brims with a love of wordplay neatly inserted into an alternate history that sits very comfortably in the reader’s psyche.

After a few chapters, it’s easy to accept a world where people can buy dodo sequencing kits over the counter like cough medicine or temporal anomalies appear out of nowhere and cause traffic jams and where a genius literally loses his wife in a Wordsworth poem. Mr. Fforde’s world is both off kilter and utterly mundane and therein lies the fun. Throw in a megalomaniacal villain who doesn’t show up on film, is seemingly bulletproof and can manipulate people’s minds and you’ve got a ripping good tale on your hands.

This is the start of a fantastic series but reads well as a standalone book. However, Thursday Next is a formidable heroine who’s just starting out on her adventures. Travel in time and space with her; it’s well worth the trip.

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