fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Tom Holt Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of SausagesLife, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages by Tom Holt

Polly is pretty sure she’s going crazy, or, at the least, senile. Not only has she agreed to attend a game of darts with her boss and coworkers, but also she has begun to find finished work that she could have sworn she hadn’t done. Worse, for any nine-to-fiver, weird things are happening with the coffee.

It may not sound like your run of the mill epic or urban fantasy, but Tom Holt is going to work magic into the plot of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages somewhere. There aren’t any vampires or demons, but dry cleaners that once were on Clevedon Road can no longer be found, and now Polly doesn’t have a dress for the darts game.

Convinced that she’s going off the deep end, Polly asks her brother Don, who writes jingles for advertisers, to investigate. Surprisingly, Don works out that his sister isn’t crazy, and also that he has magic powers. He is able to magically retrieve Polly’s dress and make a “stroppy loss adjuster standing in his doorway” disappear. Was it murder? He asks Magic, which replies from a photo album under the bed that it probably wasn’t because there isn’t a body. What good is magic though, if it can make people disappear from the face of the earth but not bring them back?

Dry cleaners, darts games, and an unreliable fabric of reality — these are the questions and dilemmas that characters face in Tom Holt’s Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages. Holt has established a reputation for writing unusual SFF stories, and his latest novel is no exception. Holt’s setting is contemporary England, and his characters are more likely to sit behind a desk than astride a horse. The problems that set these characters on their adventures are quite mundane, but make no mistake: the world is ending. It’s an unusual approach to SFF, but one that can also be refreshing.

Holt’s writing is distinguished by his humor as much as his unusual premise. For example, when Polly decides to go to the darts game with her coworkers, we learn that “the pub was called the Slug & Lettuce, and things went downhill from there.” Oh, and there are also barnyard animals that deduce the laws of physics and debate metaphysics (yes, hens discuss the “chicken and the egg” question).

All this silliness makes for an amusing read, but not necessarily a very riveting one. I found myself enjoying Holt’s humor but it was not enough to draw me into his plot. Still, readers looking for “something completely different” should certainly give Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages a go.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages — (2011) Publisher: Tom Holt is back with a hilarious novel tale of magic, real estate, and a very important pig. Polly is a real estate solicitor. She is also losing her mind. Someone keeps drinking her coffee. And talking to her clients. And doing her job. And when she goes to the dry cleaner’s to pick up her dress for the party, it’s not there. Not the dress — the drycleaner’s. And then there are the chickens who think they are people. Something strange is definitely going on — and it’s going to take more than a magical ring to sort it out.


  • Ryan Skardal

    RYAN SKARDAL, on our staff from September 2010 to November 2018, is an English teacher who reads widely but always makes time for SFF.