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“Well,” he said, “you’ll probably need a flashlight and a length of rope—but I won’t bother with a packed lunch.”

We sat in silence for a while until the Skyrail car passed Aldbourne’s church, and the yew tree with the warm sunny spot beneath it, and a memorial stone.

“Do you ever think of Jenny?” I asked, staring out the window.

“All the time.”

“Me, too.”


I am indebted once again to Penguin and Hodder for taking (once more) late delivery of manuscript with good humor. Carolyn Mays and the team at Hodder, and Josh Kendall at Penguin, whose company and assistance I have greatly enjoyed over what turned out to be an all-too-short association.

The illustrations in the book were drawn once again by Dylan Meconis and Bill Mudron, of Portland, Oregon, whose work gets better and better each year, and whose ability to work to brief in a short time is nothing short of remarkable. More of their work can be found at their respective Web sites: www.billmudron.com and www.dylanmeconis.com. They welcome commissions.

Back to the illustrating team after a short absence are Maggy and Stuart Roberts, and my thanks to them for designing some of the postcards. Maggy’s work can be viewed at www.thepaintednet.com.

New to the illustrating team is Phillip Colling-Blackman, who drew “Beacons” and “Smite” at the back of the book and another illustration that will be one of the giveaway postcards. His work can be seen at www.biro-art.com, and he too will take commissions.

My thanks also to John Wooten as Nextian science adviser, who told me that the Madeupion and “Unentanglement field theory” were closer than I realized, but that Ninjas probably won’t help science much, although they are fun.

Finally, my thanks go to Claire and Will and Rebecca and Kirsty and Tim and Jessie at Janklow’s; my dear and extraordinarily understanding wife, Mari; our two daughters; Jordan for being a cracking big brother to them both; and Maggy and Stuart for all around support—especially for taking care of the family when I had to work through our holidays. Oops.

I’d also like to thank the Van Allen belts for protecting us from the harmful solar wind, and the earth for being just the right distance from the sun to be conducive to life, and for the ability of water atoms to clump so efficiently, for pretty much the same reason. Finally, I’d like to thank every single one of my forebears for surviving long enough in this hostile world to procreate. Without any one of you, this book would not have been possible.

Jasper Fforde Wales, 2012

P.S. Regular readers of my acknowledgments will be glad to hear that we finally have a new dog. His name’s Ozzy. Thursday Next Returns in TN8: Dark Reading Matter

Table of Contents

1. Monday: Swindon

2. Monday: Phoebe Smalls

3. Monday: SpecOps

4. Monday: Shrink to Fit

5. Monday: Braxton Hicks

6. Monday: TJ-Maxx

7. Monday: Tuesday

8. Monday: Friday

9. Monday: The Madeupion

10. Monday: The Wingco

11. Monday: Evening

12. Tuesday: Library

13. Tuesday: Next Thursday

14. Tuesday: I’m Back

15. Tuesday: The Finis

16. Tuesday: Tuesday

17. Tuesday: The Sisterhood

18. Tuesday: Smalls

19. Tuesday: Home

20. Tuesday: The Destiny Aware

21. Wednesday: Library

22. Wednesday: Goliath

23. Wednesday: Adelphi

24. Wednesday: Blyton

25. Wednesday: Smite Solutions

26. Wednesday: Wroughton

27. Wednesday: Kemble Timepark

28. Wednesday: The Manchild

29. Wednesday: Dodo Buffer

30. Thursday: Budget

31. Thursday: Finisterre

32. Thursday: MadCon2004

33. Thursday: Gavin Watkins

34. Thursday: Evening

35. Thursday: Aornis

36. Friday: Morning

37. Friday: The Righteous Man

38. Friday: The Smiting

39. Friday: Destiny

40. Monday: End