Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Earth, Air, Fire & Custard

By Tom Holt

     First there was The Portable Door, then In Your Dreams (both reviewed on this site) and now here is the final volume of the trilogy. Have they saved the best until last? It is hard to tell, as they are all utterly delightful, dazzlingly intricate and as far as comic fantasy goes, probably as good as it gets. Telling people what the story is about might spoil it in a way, and the flyleaf of the book carefully avoids doing so. Suffice to say that it involves those rascals at J W Wells, hapless Paul Carpenter and prickly Sophie Pettingell. Following the timely departure of Countess Judy, the firm has drafted in a new partner in the shape of Frank Laertides. When he makes Paul an offer he cannot refuse (because he doesn't want to) it looks as though things are looking up for him but alas, this is very, very wrong.

     This is quite a fat book but one bursting with story; complicated and impressive tricks with time, other dimensions, and the like; and of course ebullient humor. Tom Holt is adept at characterization too and unfortunate loser Paul-with his worries, hopes, and fears-is a wonderfully human Everyman. Likewise, the partners spring to life as amoral-jocularity aside-and it is impossible to predict quite who is on the side of the angels, which kept me on my toes. There is so much invention in here; it took me many days to read the book as skipping parts is not an option and the whole seems as meticulously crafted as a Chinese puzzle box. Unlike too much fictional humor there is a real story in here, and ending the trilogy here seems rather a crime-there could have been so many more stories about J W Wells. This is a distillation of all Mr. Holt's previous books in this reviewer's opinion. Dare I say it? Quite possibly hugely enjoyable!

The Book

Orbit (Time Warner UK)
February 2005
Comic Fantasy [Present Day, London, England]
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The Reviewer

NameRachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2005
© 2005