After reading The Well of Lost Plots, I wasn’t sure what to expect in Something Rotten. It surprisingly picks up two years after the previous book, with Thursday having given birth to her son, Friday, and returning to the real world. It gets back to the main story of Thursday’s life, which, I think, is preferable to the fantastical world of unpublished books. Something Rotten is superior, and I enjoyed it even more than The Well of Lost Plots.
Thursday returns with a guest — Hamlet, who needs some time away from his play. Accompanied also by her son and dodos, Thursday comes back to stay with her mother. She also finds Goliath Corporation trying to make itself a religion, a prophesy that states that if the Swindon Mallets, the local croquet team, doesn’t win its game against the Reading Whackers, the world just might end. Thursday ends up as manager, since Goliath hires away most of the talent from the team.
Thursday takes advantage of Goliath’s religious aims, asking for an apology and the return of her husband, Landen. They hold to their word, but he flickers in and out for a while, causing some issues with showing up at his home only to find his parents there instead, who don’t remember their son ever becoming an adult.
With all this going on, Thursday is also chasing down the minotaur that escaped from captivity in the previous book and is chasing down Yorrick Kaine, who has come to significant political power and has started a crusade against the Danes and all things Danish. She is also being chased down by an assassin called the Windowmaker, who has close ties to one of her good friends. A loaded plate, to say the least.
I think the best thing about this book is the balance between the crises. I didn’t have as much of a problem following exactly what was going on in Something Rotten. That might have something to do with the fact that I’ve actually read more of the books and plays mentioned in this volume than the others, but I also think Fforde has created a more polished book. Friday’s escapades make more sense and the prose flows more easily.
One thing that confused me a bit was the inclusion of illustrations in the book, which seemed more heavy in the front of the book than in the back. I suspect these might have been a holdover from the hardcover edition, but, seeing as they weren’t in the other books in the series, it made me a little perplexed. I would have preferred them be left out; I think that, unless it’s a children’s book or a nonfiction book that needs figures, illustrations aren’t really necessary.
Overall, I really enjoyed Something Rotten. I found it more clever than The Well of Lost Plots, which is a pretty difficult feat, and I was completely engaged in the narrative. I can’t wait to get into the next book in the series, to find out what next happens to Ms. Thursday Next.