Friday, February 11, 2011

The Order of Odd Fish

China Mieville, author of books such as Perdido Street Station and The City and The City, thinks that authors of fantastical fiction “don’t listen to [their] own filters.” In other words, they imagine something outlandish and ignore the voice that says that their idea is silly or impossible. James Kennedy, author of the delightful and moving novel The Order of the Odd Fish, proves that he has an abundance of this talent. His novel is populated with stylish talking cockroaches, octopi that can be ridden like horses, and an order of knights whose mission is to be wrong in interesting ways. And that’s only a brief sampling.

Jo Larouche is 13 years old and lives with her aunt Lily, who used to be an actress. 13 years ago, Aunt Lily woke up in her mansion with no recollection of where she had been or what she had been doing for the last 40 years. All she knew was that there was a baby on her doorstop, with a note proclaiming “This is a DANGEROUS baby.” Now Jo and Aunt Lily are about to be taken on an adventurous journey, which will answer all questions about their past, even ones they might wish had been left unanswered.

That’s it. That’s all I’m going to say about the plot because it is so much more fun to discover it yourself. This book is a joy to read. It is absurdly funny, touching, and relentlessly paced. And, of course, it is chock full of some of enchantingly inventive characters and settings. James Kennedy totally deserves that Newbery he wrestled away from Neil Gaiman.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this great review, Maya! (And thanks for your email!) When you get your podcast up and running, I'd be delighted to help out.