I'm not usually a fan of fantasy fiction, but have loved every bizarre episode of the Thursday Next series until this one, though possibly not quite as much as the all too short (so far) spin-off Nursery Crime series. I had no hesitation in buying the hardback of "One of our Thursdays is missing" when I came across it in my local bookshop last week.
However, had I written this review before completely finishing the book, I would have strongly urged potential readers to wait for the paperback to appear. For the first time, I have been conscious of reading a book in a genre I generally dislike. Although as clever and inventive as ever, the first half, perhaps a little more, of this book, lacks the excitement and narrative conviction that raised earlier volumes above run of the mill fantasy fiction. This time, the plethora of literary in-jokes (and indeed jokes dependent on a knowledge of earlier episodes), fails to disguise that something really is missing - namely the no-nonsense and very human Thursday Next, whom I would back any day in a struggle with Lara Croft. In this book we have to make do with the kinder, gentler, "written" Thursday. Towards the end of the first half of the book, set entirely in a "remade" book-world, I was wondering whether I would even have the will-power to press on until the end.
Fortunately, the second half of the book is vastly better. After the "written" Thursday visits the real world (the alternative reality Swindon readers of previous instalments will already be familiar with), she takes on more of the character of her "real-life" counterpart, and I began to warm to her Duplex-5 series mechanical butler as well.
There are plenty of loose ends, and I cannot help feeling the editor should have stamped down on the self-parody and in-jokes more - which are mildly amusing for five minutes, but quickly become tedious, but in the end I didn't feel quite so cross with myself for having shelled out for this book in hardback. This is by no means the best, and quite possibly the weakest episode in the series so far. On the other hand it introduces plenty of possibilities which may make future episodes more interesting.