Published: 28/10/2017
ISBN: 9781785898426
Format: Paperback

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Zsa-Zsa, Zazu and a Grand Illusion
by Peter Sanders

Zsa-Zsa, Zazu and a Grand Illusion is a fabulous story set in two palaces. The first is The Palace Theatre, where a magician, the Great Gizmo, has gone missing, leaving a pile of debts; the second is a palace, somewhere and sometime in the Orient where a ghastly Dowager Empress has taken over the running in the Emperor’s absence. Trying to remove any trace of the old court, she asks her new magician Malodorous to use the ‘Great Fan of Being and Unbeing’ to annihilate the five ‘Teadragons’ – guardians of the Imperial Treasury. They escape total oblivion with the help of Zazu, the oddest bird you’ll encounter.

Back at the theatre, where protagonist Zsa-Zsa has suddenly woken up in a plush seat, some very strange things are happening, with the forced landing of a flying boat and a travelling clock that materializes out of nowhere. All is explained by Obadiah, the stage door hand, by his theory of ‘Wobblement’ – when all the theorems and formulae that govern the known and unknown world just need a rest and go on a break for a while. The two storylines collide in the theatre, where the bird and Zsa-Zsa meet the Emperor, his clockmaker and ethereal engineer, Failsworth, and the loathsome Dowager Empress and her lickspittle Malodorous. Oh yes! And a pantomime horse and some repulsive slugs...

Although the story is essentially a fantasy – featuring a travelling clock whizzing through space, a bird unsure whether it’s a machine or an animal, Teadragons who are vaporised on to a rug, a magic fan – it also lets the reader gently question the nature of time and magic in this world or indeed others and whether machines can develop consciousness. Zsa-Zsa, Zazu and a Grand Illusion is a young adult novel, similar in tone to Catherynne M. Valente’s ‘Fairyland’ series, that will appeal to fans of the surreal and the fantastical.

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