Books And Reviews

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The Order of Odd-Fish
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Jo Larouche has lived her thirteen years in the California desert with her Aunt Lily, a faded Hollywood starlet, ever since she found in Lily’s laundry room with this note pinned to her blankets: This is Jo. Please take care of her. But beware. This is a DANGEROUS baby.

Up until this point, Jo has been, as Aunt Lily puts it, “as dangerous as a glass of milk.” But all that’s about to change. At Lily’s annual Christmas costume party, several strange things happen: a boy in a hedgehog shoots an elderly Russian colonel; a talking cockroach is found tied up in the basement, moaning about how this will play in the tabloid press; and a box falls from the sky, addressed to Jo from “The Order of Odd-Fish.”

Soon, worsening circumstances lead Jo and Lily out of California forever—and into the mysterious, strange, fantastical world of Eldritch City. There, Jo learns the scandalous truth about who she is, and she and Lily join the Order of Odd-Fish, a colorful collection of knights who research useless information. Glamorous cockroach butlers, impossible quests, obsolete weapons and bizarre festivals fill their days, but Jo’s dream turns to nightmare when she learns that instead of a hero of Eldritch City, she may in fact become its destroyer. By the novel’s wrenching climax, Jo comes to understand who she truly is—and what it means to call a city home.

Equal parts Monty Python and Roald Dahl, The Order of Odd-Fish is an entertaining and hilarious ride through a world that readers will not want to leave.

Available in hardcover and paperback:

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A Smithsonian Notable Book for Children 2008
ALA 2009 Best Books for Young Adults Nominee
YALSA 2014 Popular Paperback for Young Adults
Winner (?) of 2009 Newbery Medal (here’s the sordid tale)

“Hilarious . . . Readers with a finely tuned sense of the absurd are going to adore the Technicolor ride.” —Booklist

“An extraordinary and delightfully weird romp that’s one part China Mieville, one part Lemony Snicket, with trace amounts of Madeline L’Engle and Roald Dahl . . . 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.” —Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother, For The Win, and co-editor of Boing Boing

“Rollicking fantasy on the grand scale.” —Smithsonian magazine

“An adventurous romp with singular characters. Fans of humorous chaos will find plenty of stimulation here.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“A carnival of odd . . . The imagination, whimsy, and humor aren’t like anything else you’ve read before. . . The whole time I was reading this I wished I was reading it with someone, so I could elbow them at particularly bizarre moments, or chortle, or read passages aloud and savor them.” —Laini Taylor, author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the National Book Award-nominated Lips Touch

“If Douglas Adams spawned with Hunter S. Thompson and the resulting lovechild was raised by Eddie Izzard, the result would be a close approximation of what you’ll find here. I don’t get to use the word ‘depraved’ enough in my reviews, but this book is an example of sweet mind-boggling depravity that marks the debut of an author to watch.” —Elizabeth Bird, New York Public Library

“Kennedy’s writing is so extraordinary. He has a knack for creating outrageous characters and vivid scenes where the subtlest turn of phrase can make the most hilarious impact . . . Kennedy reminds us that writing, especially young adult writing, does not have to be simple or tedious or at all reductive, that it can be dense and multi-layered and exquisitely complex . . . I loved The Order of Odd-Fish.” —Gapers Block

“A work of mischievous imagination and outrageous invention.” —Time Out Chicago

“Over the top? Yes . . . fantasy done to a clever, grotesque, nonsensical turn.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“For fans of fantasy and oddball humor, James Kennedy’s debut novel is sure to please . . . This clever, creative story will keep readers engaged and laughing. This is the perfect book for selective readers who think outside the box. Recommended.” —Library Media Connection

“A weird love child of Douglas Adams and J.K. Rowling . . . I actually laughed—hooted, snorted, guffawed—out loud . . . Wacky, weird, zany, unusual, off-kilter, and, yes, odd. You shouldn’t miss it.” —Book Nut

“A fantastic, rollicking adventure that’s perfect for older kids and teens and even adults, too. It captures the same fanciful spirit and surreal nature of Dahl and the coming-of-age story of the Harry Potter series. But Chicago-based author James Kennedy’s tale stands on its own merits, setting itself apart from those inspirations with its own brand of humor and spectacularly surreal characters and story. It’s an engrossing book that readers will be drawn into almost immediately.”—Chicagoist

“A wonderfully delirious book . . . Kennedy plays whole thing for surreal, over-the-top laughs—and he gets them in spades . . . H.P. Lovecraft meets Monty Python at a Willy Wonka convention.” —Rob Weston, author of Zorgamazoo

“Clever plot, rich and fully realized setting, and often witty dialogue.” —School Library Journal

“Start with a healthy dose of grotesque Victorianism—Charles Dickens or Lewis Carroll will do. Add splashes of Harry Potter and Franz Kafka with a cup of Monty Python and Edward Gorey. Season with pinches of William S. Burroughs, Joseph Heller, and the Book of Jonah, and whatcha get is a deliciously absurd debut novel . . . What I found most enjoyable about the novel, however, was the author’s sense of comic timing. In my opinion, he ranks among such writers as John Kennedy Toole (A Confederacy of Dunces), Oscar Wilde, and Charles Dickens at his comic best.” —Mr. S’s BiblioBlog

“Well-crafted, frankly brilliant . . . I simply couldn’t put it down.” —We Be Reading

“Delightful and moving . . . This book is a joy to read. It is absurdly funny, touching, and relentlessly paced.” —The YA Department

“Deliciously inventive . . . a delightful, almost classically British sense of humour, that makes every page a delight to read . . . Kennedy is a writer of superb creativity and absurdity . . . I thought that strange and delightfully imaginative books like Alice In Wonderland and Hitchhikers Guide couldn’t be written any more without the authors of them being accused of taking various psychotropic cocktails. I am delighted to announce that novels stuffed with the wacky and hilarious are alive and well, and, if in no-one else, they live in James Kennedy.” —A Quick Word

The Order of Odd-Fish is a fun, funny story full of oddball characters and the best cockroach butler you will ever find in a book. It appears as though pages have been ripped from Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll, twisted all up, and then bound together with Monty Python-esque decoration—a truly entertaining book.” —Kern County Library

“Twist a slice of the Wizard of Oz around a sprinkle of Alice in Wonderland. Add in a spoonful of Salvador Dali’s brains, a smidgen of Dr. Seuss and roll it all together with a heaping dose of whatever makes the Cheshire cat grin and you have the beginnings of The Order of Odd-Fish.” —Bookfetish.org

“It reminded me a lot of the books of Roald Dahl . . . If you’re looking for a wonderful fantasy-filled book full of zany characters and situations, you can’t go wrong checking out The Order of Odd-Fish. Highly recommended.” —Curled Up With A Good Book

“One of the more singular young adult fantasies—or fantasies, period—I’ve run across . . . What marks The Order of Odd-Fish as singular is the sheer explosive inventiveness of Kennedy’s universe-building . . . A wonderful book—funny, bizarre, action-packed, and even thoughtful, and stocked with a gallery of larger-than-life characters. And you don’t have to be a teenager to enjoy it. Trust me on that.” —Green Man Review

“Lively and creative . . . a novel stuffed with symbolism and intriguing themes. Are there any academics out there looking for a kids’ book to write about? Choose this one. I can’t wait to read the articles that come out of The Order of Odd Fish . . . Delacorte should be proud.” —A Shrewdness of Apes

“Every time I thought the story had settled into its comfort spot and would just flow along, Kennedy turned everything on its head and upped the absurdity ante again, and again, and again. And, amazingly, every time it works splendidly. Overflowing with laugh-out-loud moments, totally unexpected plot twists, and off-the-wall fantastical details, this is the most fun I’ve had with a book in a long time. Highly recommended, particularly to anyone who gets bored easily, and anyone who has ever wondered what a novel written by Dr. Seuss might be like.” —Joshua Whiting, Granite School District

“A wonderfully funny, quirky and entertaining book . . . Jo is a strong female character, is always ready for adventure, ready to find out what was going to happen next . . . Especially recommended for kids who enjoy adventures and the sort of humor that you find on Monty Python.” —x-tine’s x-libris

“Not since Kafka’s Metamorphosis has a giant cockroach been brought so majestically to the printed page . . . Masterly . . . This is a great book for a 13ish year old reader of fantasy, or anyone who wishes to read a book that offers an entertaining and satisfying escape from the quotidian world.” —Charlotte’s Library

“Kennedy’s first novel is so many odd flavors wrapped into one . . . If you love elaborate ceremonies, weird motives, strange smells, hideous devices, a classic quest with Lovecraftian squishiness, strong women and strange men, and the odd creature or two (tame squid anyone?), The Order of Odd-Fish is for you.” —Leaving Shangri-L.A.

“Delightfully absurd and witty. His characters are lively and engaging, and every new plot twist is hilariously surreal . . . The Order of Odd-Fish is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time, and it’s definitely enjoyable even for those who don’t consider themselves fantasy readers. Get ready for a crazy ride, and read it. Seriously.” —Spartanburg County Public Library

“Straight out mysterious, exciting, and hilarious! I’m not sure there has ever been a book like it. The characters are fresh and with no doubt they will make you laugh, wonder, and may give you the chills.” —Watermark Books

“Weirdness on top of weirdness . . . A grand epic with real peril and devastating consequences.” —Popthought.com

The Order of Odd-Fish is hard to describe but it’s a whole lot of fun to read. I laughed out loud many times. Kennedy’s word choice is smart and witty. I love that Kennedy appreciates the sophistication of a teenage reader.” —The Happy Nappy Bookseller

“Crazy. Zany. Wacky . . . I really enjoyed The Order of Odd-Fish . . . I don’t think there is anything that can compare to this book!” —Bookworm 4 Life

“This book is like Monty Python and Roald Dahl mixed together. It’s extremely funny and had me laughing out loud.” —Kiss The Book

“A rollicking adventure for all ages, The Order of Odd-Fish has something for every lover of all things ridiculous. . . James Kennedy piles on oddities so fast that you can’t help but dive in, and enjoy the stay.” —Teens Read Too

“Bizarre, quirky, mischievous.” —Internet Review of Books

“A fabulously hilarious fantasy for anyone who misses Harry Potter.” —Rochester Hills Public Library

“An interesting read from start to finish. The world of Eldritch City is enthralling as well as original. Many of the ideas, such as a talking digestive tract, or the Inconvenience, are all the more interesting for their originality as well as their oddity. It is an enjoyable fantasy that pushes that which is ‘normal’ out the window. A fantastic read.” —Evanston Public Library

“Part Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, part Discworld, part Alice in Wonderland, and part The Phantom Tollbooth, James Kennedy’s novel The Order of Odd-Fish is an absurdly hilarious adventure through a simply strange and wondrous world.” —East Brunswick Public Library

“This is a totally weird book. If you like fantasy that is completely crazy you will like this book. . . Eldritch City, itself, is a strange and wonderful place . . . Jo is truly dangerous and you really want to read the book to find out why.” —Cougar Book Corner

“Adventure, mystery, and tons of crazy . . . I really had a good time with this book, like a breath of crazy air, if you want something fun. This will be a good choice.” —Binge On Books

“The book rocks . . . a book that both adult and teen can enjoy for the fantasy and for its devilishly clever humor.” —Doin’ Time in Erie, PA

“James Kennedy is a terrifically diverting writer . . . I just worry my next read will fall flat in comparison.” —The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Gallery

“Astonishing and funny . . . Think of Eldritch City as the love child of Lewis Carroll and Neil Gaiman . . . irony worthy of a satirist writing for adults.” —Book Aunt

“A delicious romp . . . While this book is dressed in the traditional garb of adolescent fantasy, you’ll find on closer inspection that the fabric is a constantly shifting sea of colors, patterns, and mythic beasts. This book never lets you get comfortable with anything before it rips the rug from out under you . . . A technicolor dreamride . . . Keep a watch on this Kennedy, he has creativity to spare.” —The Weirdside

“I do not remember ever laughing more at any book than this one.” —Adventures of a Book Worm

“The weirdest book we’ve ever read . . . a cross between Monty Python and Roald Dahl. ” —Greenwoods Bookshoppe

“A crazy ride that would make Norton Juster proud . . . a delightful journey through an eccentric city. I’m eager to explore more of Kennedy’s imagination.” —Materials For Teens

“Whimsical, absurd, grotesque . . . I wasn’t just laughing, but feeling amazed delight at how wonderfully off-centre it all is.” —So Many Books

“A wonderful book . . . It almost bubbles with frenetic energy, but at the same time, you get to know the characters and what drives them . . . I just really, really liked this book. It’s so well written, funny, moving, and exciting.” —Well, It’s About Time You Heard My Opinion

“Compelling . . . The imagination of Mr. Kennedy is wild, wooly, and incredibly active . . . The language is rich, the scenery detailed, the story humorous and amazing.” —Nancy Carpentier Brown at Flying Stars

“A fantastic book by an author who is clearly influenced by Monty Python and Roald Dahl. His book contains all of the fantastic whimsical ideas that they could dream up along with the dark and scary too.” —Book of the Day Club

“Fabulous . . . The story kicks into high gear and stays there . . . Once you start reading you will see why kids are eating this book up and going back for seconds, thirds and fourths.” —CYA: Children and Young Adults

“Kennedy certainly has his own unique style . . . It’s a lot of fun to read . . . Fun, frothy and full of flavor.” —Aarti Nagaraju at Booklust

“One of the weirdest, ebullient, busy, fantastical, lively, curious, strange, surprising, grotesque, scary, triumphant, inventive books I have read this year.” —Miss Corene’s Website

“A wonderfully imaginative book the likes of which we haven’t seen since The Phantom Tollbooth, and in many ways reminds me of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Kennedy not only creates a totally unique world and landscape, but does an excellent job of defining the rules of this world, and describing how everything looks so that you can imagine along with him.” —Lindsey’s Library

“The most delightful and darkly compelling book I have read in a long time.” —Vaughn Public Library

“Epic . . . Kennedy has created something unique . . . the Belgian Prankster and the Silent Sisters rank among the best villains of children’s literature.” —Hi Miss Julie! Librarian Blog

“A roller coaster ride of craziness and humorous fun. If this book isn’t on your book shelf, you only have yourself to blame.” —Artist In Progress

“Impossible to not love . . . Random, absurd and imaginative and very tongue-in-cheek . . . this book rocks and that I think everybody should get it at once . . . The kind of book where you’re totally into it, laughing loudly, wanting to quote entire chapters to family members.” —Akima Montgomery’s Karolinske Paradis

“You should go read this book. It takes a really basic coming of age story about a girl trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be and flips it on its head. Kennedy creates an absurd world that is full of odd, disgusting, hilarious and dangerous characters and gives us a story that you won’t want to put down. It has adventure and laughs and what more can you really ask for?” —A Reader’s Ramblings

“Wonderfully fresh in plot and characters. It is extremely creative, full of amusing and scary twists and turns. The descriptions on Eldritch City and every other scene is so vibrant with sounds, sights and smells that you will feel you are in the book. This book doesn’t have a boring moment. James Kennedy has created a whole ‘nother world, vibrantly alive. A must read.” —An Opinioned Synopsis

“Maybe one of the best books I’ve ever read. Filled to the brim with enjoyable characters, action, mad villains and fairy tales come to life, this was an amazing book that I’d recommend even to the most critical eye.” —Fishy

“One of the most amazing books ever. I think it made it onto my ‘Favorite’ list (which I will reread probably until I’m eighty) with Twilight, most Tamora Pierce books, the Abhorsen trilogy, and The Compass Rose before I’d even finished it . . . Just plain brilliant.” —An Angel’s Gettaway

The Order of Odd-Fish isn’t your typical fantasy novel. And that is the exact thing that makes it so brilliant . . . Everything about the book is really witty and clever . . . Mysterious, suspenseful, fantastical, and even a little bit scary, but most of all it’s fun . . . The perfect balance of the silly and the serious.” —That Hapa Chick

“No-holds-barred awesomeness: funny, fantastic, exuberant, enthusiastic. Read it! Now!” —Stacy J. Ratner

“A magnificent, mind-blowing, magnanimous, monstrous, mountainous, Machiavellian masterpiece!” —Piqua Public Library, Piqua, OH

“Hilarious and heart-stopping . . . This seemingly ridiculous but unexpectedly touching novel will keep you reading up ’til midnight.” —Alice’s Blog

“A fine read and unique in lots of ways that are not simply odd but also surprising and fresh. Things aren’t just weird for weird’s sake. They all fit together in the weird salad that Kennedy has tossed together, or spun…however you prefer salads made. So, if you are into things like kids saving the world, flying ostriches, giant fish, pranksters, and Akira style endings, go read it.” —Forgotten Books

“Reading it is a three-dimensional experience . . . I see a man with a leaky fountain pen clasped between his toes writing rapidly on the back of an ancient, uncooperative hippopotamus while juggling a flaming Baked Alaska, a razor-sharp cleaver, and a small cardboard box . . . I whole-heartedly encourage you to run now to your library and try it out for yourself! (The reading of the book that is; not the juggling of cleavers.)” —Deborah Diesen, New York Times bestselling author of The Pout-Pout Fish and The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade

“A wonderfully absurd, funny book, albeit with hints of darkness . . . Quite enjoyable.” —Bookroll

“A fully realized and whimsical world . . . It’s exactly the sort of thing my thirteen year old self would have gone for (not to mention my almost 26 year old self).” —Book Wit

“James Kennedy has populated this strange world with colorful, bizarre characters, secret societies, and odd goings-on. The details may dizzy, initially, but ultimately, Eldritch City and its denizens (which include vain cockroach butlers, eelmen, flying battle ostriches, and more) delight. There are hundreds of other Eldritch stories waiting to be told (it would be a crime to let all of that glorious world-building go to waste). Their whispers will sneak into the corners of your dreams until you, too, take up the banner of Odd-Fish and enter the Dome of Doom. Imaginative, suspenseful, and entertaining. Four stars.” —The Huntley Area Public Library

“Definitely an entertaining read. It is a book that will have readers laughing and rolling on the floor.” —Open The Eyes

“Very fun, very clever . . . Kennedy twists the tropes he’s working with, even as he painstakingly honors each one . . . Like Twain in Huckleberry Finn, Kennedy does his level best to convince his audience that they’re reading a straight-up adventure yarn with no real substance while actually presenting them with a well-layered fable with a moral for those willing to look. In a story filled with the whimsical and ridiculous, Kennedy actually manages to address one of the central deep terrors of adolescence—that the strange new person we’re turning into isn’t good enough, isn’t loveable, isn’t even really us—and he does it with the same panache and originality that he uses while gleefully tipping the sacred cows of heroic adventure stories . . . Buy this book. Seriously, come on.” —Can You Retitle These Later?

“Hilarious, absurd, and challenging . . . Part Monty Python and part Roald Dahl, it is the sort of book that can inspire in young and old alike both fits of laughter and deep philosophical thought.” —Literary Chicago

“While I read James Kennedy’s The Order of Odd-Fish, I thought of the following authors: Norton Juster, T.H. White (especially King Pellinore and the Questing Beast in The Sword in the Stone), Daniel Pinkwater, and James Thurber. It also brought to mind Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and Quentin Crisp . . . I recommend The Order of Odd-Fish to members of secret societies and others, and am eager to see what Mr. Kennedy will come up with next.” —Sara Ryan, author of Empress of the World and The Rules for Hearts

“This book is awesome. It’s incredibly bizarre; very Monty Python-esque with a bit of Lovecraft crashing the party. The oddball adventure is neatly balanced with a slight touch of horror, and it’s a lot of fun . . . Incredibly engaging. 5 out of 5 stars.” —Black Cat Lit

“The most bizarre world I’d ever been in . . . Despite everything being very strange it’s somehow very human too . . . If you like weird stuff you are in for a real treat!” —Blue Eyed Night Owl

“A great writing style where everything just flows effortlessly to create this picture in your mind . . . The world is so cool and even though it’s utterly unbelievable you can’t help but be drawn in. . . . I find it hard to convey the love I have for this book, it is practically impossible to communicate all of its awesomeness. One of my personal favourites and its story stays with you long after you finish it.” —Books Worth Remembering

“I highly recommend the book for fans of Douglas Adams or Jasper Fforde . . . A great choice for people who enjoy books that are bizarre, clever, and very funny.” —Sonderbooks

“I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard while reading a book. James Kennedy’s book is pure, outrageously silly fun . . . Read it!” —Not On Shelf

“Absurdly funny . . . a strange and clever book, full of fantastic places and well-developed, complex characters . . . I was fervently hoping for a sequel, or even a prequel. Mr. Kennedy’s book is fantastic, and absolutely worthy of its five-star rating.” —Galumptious Words

“You will never read anything else like this . . . nerve-wracking and suspenseful . . . It’s freaking awesome. This is nothing like any other book. It’s so weird. This guy has an awesome imagination.” —Bookie Woogie

“Crazy, wonderful . . . equal parts Monty Python, Kafka, The Simpsons, Italo Calvino and fever dream.” —Dina Strasser at “The Line” blog

“Brilliant . . . It’s so outlandish and backwards . . . All the characters, plotlines, and dialogue are fantastic!” —Bookworm Extraordinaire Reviews

“Quirky and funny . . . but it also has a dark undercurrent that gets pretty horrifying.” —Girls Underground

“One-of-a-kind debut . . . I was hooked!” —The Book Files

“Strange and thrilling . . . a unique, exciting, and mind-boggling story of an ordinary girl who turns out to be the most extraordinary of all.” —Prescott Library

“One of the most delightful YA books I’ve read in a while . . . a fantastic read if you’re looking for something different from the current genre fads: its quirkiness and, well, oddness distinguish it as a fun read that stands out from the rest of the pack.” —Susie Bookworm

“The zaniest book I’ve ever read . . . I hope James Kennedy writes forever.” —Bri Johnson at Kidinfo

“James Kennedy’s writing was amazing . . . Definitely a fun and thrilling read.” —The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

“I found this to be one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. It is a great mash-up of part fantasy and part adventure story. If you want to go on a rollercoaster ride with the most interesting cast of characters known to man, read this DANGEROUS book!” —West Allis Public Library