It is a time of unrest in the BookWorld. Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the RealWorld or is this something more sinister?
But all is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, who is attempting to keep her own small four-book series both respectful to her illustrious namesake and far from the from specter of being remaindered.
Despite her desire to stay out of the spotlight, written Thursday Next is asked by Jurisfiction to investigate a novel that has suffered an in-red breakup and deposited a narrative debris field halfway across the BookWorld. It's not quite so straightforward: Someone has ground the ISBN numbers from the wreckage, and all of a sudden the mysterious Men in Plaid want her dead.
As the hunt for answers takes her from the Council of Genres to Fan Fiction and from Comedy to Vanity publishing, written Thursday realizes that real Thursday had been investigating a plot fiendish enough to be killed for. But who is responsible? Only a trip up the mighty Metaphoric River and a visit to the hideously frightening RealWorld can provide the answers.
With her clockwork butler, Sprockett, and her Designated Love Interest, Whitby Jett, Thursday has come to grips with her inability to live up to her namesake's talent and prove herself to the one person she respects more than anyone else: the real her...