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J.W. Wells & Co Books In Order

Publication Order of J. W. Wells & Co. Books

The Portable Door (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
In Your Dreams (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Earth, Air, Fire and Custard (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
you Don't Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But It Helps (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Better Mousetrap (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
May Contain Traces of Magic (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

J.W. Wells & Co is a Series by Tom Holt, the British born author known for writing parody science and fantasy fiction novels. The first novel in the series was “The Portable Door”, which is Tom Holts thirty-fifth title. After the publication of the title and receiving much critical acclaim in the UK, Holt went on to publish several more titles in the series to stand at seven published by 2011. Described as dazzling and hilariously funny by many reviewers, Holt goes back to his fantasy fiction roots in the novels with much success. Introducing a new lead character in the feckless Paul Carpenter, he writes novels full of a lot of intriguing fantasy elements. His lead character is a man working at a London firm that is involved in the cutthroat love potion supplies business in London. J. W. Wells & Co. is a fictitious company run by magicians that makes some of the best love potions in the city. The series and the firm derive their name from the lead protagonist in “The Sorcerer”, Gilbert and Sullivan’s light operetta. Given the cutthroat competition in the business, the company is determined to do anything within its power to stay ahead of the competition, which for the most part leads to the corruption of its leader’s morals. The novels follow the adventures of feckless new hires who get into the company only to find themselves in over their heads.

The aspect of the corrupt corporate executive is a dominant theme in the series with many of J. W. Wells & Co. corrupt beyond redemption. They are willing to offer their magical potions to anyone who has the money to pay for it regardless of their motivations. Nearly all the executives that are the lead antagonists in the series try to take over the world using their magical powers before the hero neutralizes them. Given how much magic is present in the company, it is a dangerous place to work and the people that find themselves working for the company soon find themselves transformed into nothing more than a piece of office equipment. Tom Holt practically throws the entire fantasy kitchen sink into the series with a Riders of Rohan Lieutenant Colonel, giants, a lich, the Bank of the Dead, the Fey, dragons, goblins, living swords, and mermaids. The setting of the novel itself is a weirdness magnet, as the company hires Paul Carpenter a man seemingly without purpose. The building seems to transform itself randomly with employees left to their own devices, staplers disappearing across the building, and glowing eyes scaring people at random. The misadventures of Paul the lead character lasts for three titles to be replaced by those of other new employees that are just as naïve and feckless. Interspecies romance is another important aspect of the series as shape-shifting goblins who have relationships with humans particularly the lead character are very common.

Paul Carpenter the lead character in the series is the personification of the mundane. He is a feckless university dropout that was abandoned by his parents as a child and emotionally has never matured beyond age 11 even as he is now 20 years. Paul is a strangely familiar young man that is inept, passive, gauche, shy and desperate for attention from the opposite sex, yet lacking the prerequisite mannerisms to attract anyone. Forced by circumstances to look for a job, he finds one as a filing clerk at JW Wells & Co., even as he made history in giving one of the worst answers to an interview question. Now working in the mysterious firm, he soon finds himself mingling with weird characters not least of all of who is Mrs. Robinson the receptionist. Rosie happens to be the mother of one of the company’s partners. She is a goblin that shape shifts into a range of beautiful human forms that flirts with the new employees such as Paul Carpenter with reckless abandon. Nonetheless, her schemes are more for mischief and fun rather than an end goal, even as she has Magnificent Bastard like manipulative streaks and some of the most hilarious lines in the books. While she is as vain as anyone could be, transforming herself into gorgeous supermodel bodies almost every day, she is one of the most sympathetic of characters. She is often looking out for the lead character to help him get out of precarious circumstances.

“The Portable Door”, the first novel in the series introduces Paul Carpenter, a young man living in a shabby and dismal bedsit that has just been told to find a job and move out of home by his parents. He soon lands a job at the mysterious J.W. Wells & Co. though it is quite clear that he may have a very difficult job trying to do what is required of him. It is not long before he is found to be out of his depth forgetting his boss’s name, his colleagues’ names, and even his own name. He breaks things and hides in the toilet traumatized and weeping hysterically unsure of whom he should report to or what he is supposed to do next. Sophie his colleague is equally new and occasionally seems just as confused as Paul. She is enamored with Paul but unfortunately, she has a boyfriend leaving the confused Paul pining for her. The narrative becomes even odder with magical contrivances seemingly coming out of nowhere at the most inopportune of times. With a vault full of unusual antiquities such as the life policy for Vlad Dracul, a birth certificate for Scarlett O’Hara, and walls with scratch marks that appear and disappear at will, it is a roller coaster of a story whose ending is impossible to guess.

“In Your Dreams”, the second novel in the J. W. Wells & Co. series is a delightful sequel to the first that sees Paul Carpenter offered a promotion. Feckless as he is, it comes as a big surprise and too good to be true. Everything seems rosy until he comes home to find that his girlfriend Sophie has left him after getting a transfer to another city. With his head not in the right place and not having a good understanding of his job description, he is bewildered when he learns that it involves pest control. Even as he is now more attracted to the new receptionist Melze, he cannot take his mind off just what type of pest control he is supposed to be involved in. What he does not know is that dark companies like J.W. Wells & Co typically pull such stunts all the time. The trick is to dump sinister jobs onto employee laps while they are too busy infatuated with the office intern to take the time to think before getting into dark contracts. Paul Carpenter may regret not reading the small print and job description before getting that undeserved promotion.

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