Rating: 5 stars
Recommended for: Anyone ten and up who loves the absurd, the clever, the fantastic.
The Order of Odd-Fish is an absurdly funny book in which eggplants dance, giant cockroaches obsess over neckwear, wannabe villains sell their souls for barbecue-flavored potato chips, ostriches fly, and nefarious handymen adore avant-garde pies. In short, James Kennedy’s debut novel is a strange and clever book, full of fantastic places and well-developed, complex characters.
The book first drew my attention while I was browsing the shelves of my local library. I initially noticed its unusual cover, particularly the large fish vomiting up a brick building on the front. I next turned my attention to the title: The Order of Odd-Fish. I was intrigued already—I prompty checked it out and left, without even bothering to read the book jacket.
Later that day, as I sat in my cozy reading chair back home, I cracked the book open and started to read. Being an avid reader (and lover!) of fantasy, I was hoping for the best, but I must admit that I was halfway expecting to find a dull story within its pages, grossly eclipsed by its cover. There must be a reason that it’s such a small-print book, I thought.
Instead, I found myself blown away by Mr. Kennedy’s clever wording and detailed descriptions. There was not too much dialogue, nor too little, and t was always very easy to tell who was speaking, and with what inflections. The story did not overwhelm me with details and impossible explanations, but it made me feel as though I were actually in Eldritch City. I soared through the skies with Jo and Ethelred, I fought beside them in the Dome of Doom, I walked through luscious rainforests alongside them. I was completely immersed in this fantasy world, and I spent two or three nights huddled beneath the covers, flashlight and book in hand.
The plot was very well-thought-out and well-written. Thirteen-year-old Jo Larouche has an awful destiny in which she must destroy the world as a wild goddess, and she wants absolutely nothing to do with it. Forced to hide her identity as the Ichthala, Jo throws herself into her new life in Eldritch City, focusing on her new friends and on her squire training. However, where some authors may somewhat ignore Jo’s destiny, coming back to it very infrequently as she explores her new world, Mr. Kennedy never allowed the worry to completely leave Jo’s mind—she is constantly bringing it back to the attention of the reader, wondering how her destiny will play out, wishing the Silent Sisters would just get it over with already. The reader is never completely distracted from the true plot of the story, but there are plenty of side-stories and happenings to please and interest.
How often have I come to the climax of a story, only to find the resolution either entirely predictable, or utterly confusing? The Order of Odd-Fish was neither—the outcome was surprising, yet it fit in perfectly with the rest of the story and left me feeling satisfied that things had, indeed, worked themselves out. All the loose ends were tied up, and, by the final sentence, I was fervently hoping for a sequel, or even a prequel. Mr. Kennedy’s book is fantastic, and absolutely worthy of its five-star rating. I applaud Mr. James Kennedy’s wonderful storytelling abilities.
It was truly a galumptious read!