By People Staff
Updated April 14, 2003 12:00 PM

By Jasper Fforde

The title is literal for the characters in Fforde’s enchanting sequel to last year’s comic fantasy The Eyre Affair. Once again we’re in 1985, and people can leap across time and zip in and out of famous books. Villains have tried to kill off such beloved heroines as Jane Eyre. But Thursday Next, an agent with the secretive Literary Detective office, is on the case.

When her husband, Landen ParkeLaine, disappears, Thursday embarks on another manic chase through the world of words, wangling her way into Kafka’s The Trial and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. As before, Fforde has great fun scripting encounters with literary characters, from Miss Havisham of Dickens’s Great Expectations to Carroll’s Cheshire Cat. Thursday’s charm makes this a tale to savor. Harry Potter fans outgrowing Hogwarts should dive in. (Viking, $24.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Fabulous fantasy