November 16, 2012 7:59 pm

Trapped in fantasy land

Optimus Yarnspinner returns to the town in whose tome-crammed catacombs he nearly lost his life

The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books, by Walter Moers, translated by John Brownjohn, Harvill Secker RRP£20, 432 pages


Walter Moers’ sixth novel set in fantasy land Zamonia is a sequel to 2007’s The City of Dreaming Books, although the action takes place 200 years on. It sees the return of Optimus Yarnspinner, a “Lindworm”, or dinosaur, who is now a successful writer, although inspiration ebbs away with each bestseller.

A mysterious letter summons Yarnspinner back to Bookholm, the town in whose tome-crammed catacombs he nearly lost his life. Since being burnt down by the sinister Shadow King, Bookholm has been rebuilt and become something of a tourist trap. Inevitably, Yarnspinner is lured once again into the labyrinth.

At which point the novel ends abruptly, with a conclusion promised soon. That aggravation aside, it’s a fun read, packed with Moers’ typical wordplay, not to mention his lovingly detailed illustrations. John Brownjohn, translating from the original German, tackles the many neologisms and anagrams with gusto, helping to make this catnip for anyone with a passion for language.

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