Order of Odd-Fish, a funny, mannered, hilariously weird epic romp

By Cory Doctorow

James Kennedy's debut young adult novel The Order of Odd-Fish is an extraordinary and delightfully weird romp that's one part China Mieville, one part Lemony Snicket, with trace amounts of Madeleine L'Engle and Roald Dahl.

Young Jo Larouche lives in a flyspeck town with her "aunt," a golden-age film star named Lily Larouche who disappeared for 40 years (along with her sprawling home) before reappearing in the middle of the desert with the baby Jo and no memory of the intervening years. All that Jo knows about her origin is that she was found in her aunt's clothes-dryer with a note warning that she was a "dangerous baby."

Jo's life is weird enough, but it gets a lot weirder fast when one of her aunt's legendary parties is crashed by Colonel Koraskov and his talking cockroach butler Savino, who save her from a near-assassination by Ken Kiang, a billionaire who's devoted his life to finding meaning by being evil. As they flee from Kiang, they find themselves eaten by an enormous fish that has also swallowed the lodge house of a mysterious order of knights called the "Order of Odd-Fish." They are vomited -- along with the lodge-house -- on the shores of Eldritch City in the middle of a festival and are welcomed back as Lily, Korsakov and Savino's memories return.

And that's when things get really weird.

Kennedy has filled 400+ pages with a series of strange turn-ups and adventures that grow progressively more outlandish and funny, such that when you think he's surely run out of runway and must crash, he finds new, unsuspected weirdness to explore. This is what Harry Potter would be if its magic world was truly wondrous and magnificent, as opposed to plain reality with broomsticks and funny robes. Kennedy's magic children fight duels to the death on flying ostrichs, dressed as avatars of dead gods, wielding flame-spurting lances and reciting ritual poetic insults for the delight of toothless omnisexual crime-bosses. If that sounds like your cup of tea (it certainly is mine!) then this is a book for you.

An epic novel of exotic pie, Götterdämmerung, mutants, evil, crime, and musical theater, Odd-Fish is a truly odd fish, as mannered and crazy as an eel in a tuxedo dropped down your trousers during a performance of The Ring Cycle.

The Order of Odd-Fish

Published 8:07 am Wed, Feb 23, 2011

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About the Author

I write books. My latest are: a YA graphic novel called In Real Life (with Jen Wang); a nonfiction book about the arts and the Internet called Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age (with introductions by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer) and a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.

8 Responses to “Order of Odd-Fish, a funny, mannered, hilariously weird epic romp”

  1. Anonymous says:

    thank u BoingBoing, thats y i <3 u!

  2. Anonymous says:

    James is a riot. Check out his ALA speech spoofing himself and Neil Gaiman:

    http://jameskennedy.com/2009/07/13/i-win-the-newbery/

  3. Tbizz says:

    To those of you that teach in the Chicago area, James has a great education session for performance that is an absolute blast. He held a session at a county wide institute last year in Dupage and his session was the best of the day by far. Sign him up for your school!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Correct spelling is “Madeleine L’Engle”

  5. Featureless Cube says:

    This is James Kennedy. Thanks so much for the marvelous review of my book!

    For those interested, I also wanted to share that I’ve been getting a lot of incredible fan art from readers of “Odd-Fish” since it came out. I’ve been amazed at how talented and generous fans can be. (We’re going to do a second gallery show of this art near Chicago in April.)

  6. Ito Kagehisa says:

    I must have this.

  7. bklynchris says:

    He graciously video chatted with the odd fish at my son’s school. I asked my son what he remembers about his talk. His reply, “That he was locked in his basement during the talk because his baby was having a fit.”. : D

    I told my son that I wished I had a basement ; )

    Yes, James Kennedy is a VERY GROOVY dude and an amazing writer.

    THANKS CORY!

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