Polly is a real estate solicitor, the lowest of the low as far as her friends are concerned. Needless to say, her feeling of misery is only compounded by her suspicion that she is losing her marbles. Her brother Don, on the other hand, is an easy-going musician who will happily bumble along in life, spending weeks on the creation of a single jingle and getting paid vast amounts of money for doing so. Both their lives begin to unravel quite spectacularly when a magical artefact escapes from its owner and finds its way into Don's pocket. He makes one of his neighbours disappear, communes with his childhood self (realising, in the process, that his parents must have been saints not to have strangled him before he hit puberty) and ends up accessing a parallel world through his fridge.
Reading Tom Holt is, to some extent, an acquired skill. You have to get used to not having an overview of the plot right away (and, for some elements, not until the final couple of paragraphs), and your disbelief must be so firmly suspended a hurricane wouldn't shift it. It's rather like trying to read a jigsaw puzzle, and there's no point in struggling: just relax and enjoy the feeling of pleasure you experience when you discover two pieces that fit together. It helps if you are well-read and have a good working knowledge of recent political, financial and celebrity shenanigans. You will gain a lot more from the humorous references if you enjoy Radio Four and some of the better TV programmes. This particular tome, for example, makes glancing references to ''Blackadder'' and ''Red Dwarf'' as well as
[[The Lord of the Rings]], ''Chicken Run'', Operation Stack, the Flying Dutchman and that brainy camel in [[Discworld]]. You'll also find ''Star Trek'', Kafka, the American Declaration of Independence and ''Monty Python'' – though why Microsoft and every real estate solicitor ever born haven't sued Mr Holt remains a mystery.
The thing about Tom Holt is that he is the master of misdirection. You meet a character, watch a short scene, and then the action bowls along so fast you don't have time to wonder how they fit into the plot. And it may well be that they are exactly what they seem: brief cameos introduced to mirror a plot theme, or to reinforce a minor point. On the other hand, they could be the nub of the thing, the crazy axis upon which the whole fantastical plot is based. With Holt, anything is possible. His writing is in the same mould as that of [[Terry Pratchett]], [[Douglas Adams]] and [[Jasper Fforde]]: extraordinary worlds where the mundane sits cheek by jowl with the utterly ridiculous, where the internal logic of a plot may be mind-blowing, but will always be ruthlessly consistent and coherent - worlds so convincing you become immersed and return to Planet Everyday a little astonished not to see yourself surrounded by over-sexed goblins, emotionally challenged robots and the occasional Cheshire cat.