The Craziest Trap You’ll Ever See

The Better Mousetrap, by Tom Holt – This one is in the same series as In Your Dreams, but takes place some time later, when J.W. Wells has gone bust and Paul Carpenter and Sophie have retired into their own universe. Their son Frank has inherited the Portable Door that can transport someone anywhere in time and space, and uses it to do freelance work for an insurance agent. He goes back in time to save people, thereby making it so that the agent doesn’t have to pay out on claims. During his work, he meets up with a woman named Emily Spitzer, who works in pest control for a magic firm, which means she kills dragons and other mythical creatures. No matter how many times Frank saves her, she just keeps dying, as part of a complicated plot by her employer. The two of them also fall in love with each other, but their relationship never really comes across as that interesting to me. Indeed, I kind of feel that the two of them would work better as supporting characters than the main protagonists. There’s just not a whole lot to them. There’s a pretty cynical attitude to the book in general, with most of the characters more concerned with making money than anything else. Not that I have a problem with cynicism, but it meant there really wasn’t anyone I could particularly root for. That said, Holt obviously had a lot of fun with this fantasy universe, which must be why he stuck with it for so many books. When you have a dog turned into a very earnest young man, a man-eating troll on a board of directors, and gambling dragons, it’s certainly going to be fun. There was also a reference to Honest John’s House of Clones from Falling Sideways. Very convoluted, which can be enjoyable, but also made the story a little hard to follow.

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