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Order of Odd-Fish

Order of Odd-Fish

4.6 20
by James Kennedy

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JO LAROUCHE HAS lived her 13 years in the California desert with her Aunt Lily, ever since she was dropped on Lily’s doorstep with this note: This is Jo. Please take care of her. But beware. This is a dangerous baby. At Lily’s annual Christmas costume party, a variety of strange events take place that lead Jo and Lily out of California


JO LAROUCHE HAS lived her 13 years in the California desert with her Aunt Lily, ever since she was dropped on Lily’s doorstep with this note: This is Jo. Please take care of her. But beware. This is a dangerous baby. At Lily’s annual Christmas costume party, a variety of strange events take place that lead Jo and Lily out of California forever—and into the mysterious, strange, fantastical world of Eldritch City. There, Jo learns the scandalous truth about who she is, and she and Lily join the Order of Odd-Fish, a collection of knights who research useless information. Glamorous cockroach butlers, pointless quests, obsolete weapons, and bizarre festivals fill their days, but two villains are controlling their fate. Jo is inching closer and closer to the day when her destiny is fulfilled, and no one in Eldritch City will ever be the same.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Lynne Farrell Stover
Lily Larouche, an eccentric actress, hosts a raucous Christmas Eve party at her castle in the middle of a California desert. The next day, after a series of bizarre events, a giant fish is spitting up her, her friends, and a multistory building onto the beach of the extraordinarily weird Eldritch City. Accompanying Lily is thirteen-year-old Jo, a "dangerous" orphan who spends most of her time trying to uncover the past, avoid two psychotic villains, and discover her destiny by doing really irrational things. Lily and Jo join the Order of the Odd-Fish, an organization of ritualistic knights, squires, and butlers who research and catalog useless information. Eventually Jo realizes she is the catalyst who could set off a series of horrific events that could mean not only the destruction of Eldritch City but the end of the entire world. About twice as long as it needs to be, this book is an uneven mixture of ridiculousness and depravity. Although some characters are roll-your-eyes hilarious including Sefino, the three-foot-tall cockroach, others are unappealing, overly violent, or obsessed with bodily functions. The primary setting, the imaginary Eldritch City, is inconsistent in description and difficult to imagine-one should be able to imagine imaginary places. The word play is overdone, especially the annoying amount of awful alliteration. To paraphrase the author, "this entire story has become too fantastical for my taste." Reviewer: Lynne Farrell Stover
Children's Literature - Elizabeth D. Schafer
Cockroaches, Wormbeards, and Odd-Fish befuddle thirteen-year-old Jo Larouche, who, after surviving an airplane crashing into the ocean, is thrust from a giant fish into the absurd world of Eldritch City. Jo soon discovers that her Aunt Lily, who raised orphaned Jo in California, and Lily's eccentric friends are knights in the Order of Odd-Fish. Jo and other Eldritch City teenagers serve as squires to the knights, learning Eldritch City historic facts, which an elaborate tapestry depicts. The community was stunned thirteen years prior when an evil force, known as the All-Devouring Mother, destroyed vast areas of that city and killed many residents, including the mother of Ian, a squire for whom Jo develops romantic feelings. Survivors realized that the nefarious Silent Sisters placed the All-Devouring Mother's malevolent essence in an infant girl, referred to as the Ichthala, which will reemerge when that child matures. Rumors spread that the Ichthala has returned to Eldridge City. Jo duels and eludes known enemies such as the Belgian Prankster and friends, who abruptly become foes, intensifying suspense as she comprehends her true identity. Overly detailed scenes, excessive zany characters, and tangential plot developments may seem indulgent but contribute to creating a believable setting in which Jo endures trials and dangers, transforming into an extraordinary heroine who finds her home. L. Frank Baum's "Oz" novels present similar literary elements. Reviewer: Elizabeth D. Schafer
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

Thirteen-year-old Jo Larouche lives quietly in the California desert with her adoptive Aunt Lily, an eccentric former film star, and longs for something exciting to happen. She gets her wish and then some when Lily's annual costume party is crashed by an elderly Russian colonel ruled by his digestive system and a giant talking cockroach with a flair for the dramatic. Soon Jo and Lily are swept up by the Order of Odd-Fish, a group of knights devoted to researching useless information, and taken to the fantastical world of Eldritch City, where Jo learns the truth about her birth and destiny. This debut novel has many of the trappings of popular young adult fantasy titles, including an exotic setting, a dangerous villain, and a coming-of-age quest. However, Kennedy's clever plot, rich and fully realized setting, and often witty dialogue cannot compete with his dense, ridiculous prose (e.g., "He could not even think about the Belgian Prankster for too long before he would feel his soul dwindle and teeter on the precipice of being blasted to nothing by the sheer demonic grandeur of the Belgian Prankster."). Very few teen fantasy fans will be willing to wade through the text, no matter how likable the heroine and how fascinating the world of Eldritch City.-Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD

Kirkus Reviews
Kennedy's debut sets a confused but game teenager down amidst a Monty Pythonesque cast that ranges from the titular Order of Knight-Scholars-dedicated to the study of all things pointless and speculative-to a corps of oversized, unutterably vain cockroach butlers. Thirteen years after being left on a doorstep with a cryptic note, Jo suddenly finds herself pursued from California to teeming Eldritch City, a pawn in the schemes of an undead creature of confusingly indeterminate nature and abilities. Why? Because Jo is the Ichthala, born with the vital component needed to bring The All-Devouring Mother back to universe-destroying existence. The author wastes this promising premise on an overstuffed tale frequently sidetracked by quirky characters, subplots, unexplained twists and random ruckuses. Any suspense is dispelled by, first, a popular local TV show that reveals all major plot developments, and second, a conveniently discovered letter from Jo's lost father that explicitly describes what she needs to do to come out on top. This may find an audience, but probably not a young one. (Fantasy. 10-14 & adult)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)
820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Order of Odd-Fish

By James Kennedy
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Copyright © 2008

James Kennedy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780385905244

The desert was empty, as though a great drain had sucked the world underground. Every color, every sound had vanished, leaving nothing but flat sand and silence.
Except for the ruby palace. If you were blasting down the highway in the middle of the night, somewhere near Dust Creek, you probably wouldn't even see it. Or just blackness, a red flash in the distance, and then nothing. It was tucked away behind the mountains, alone and nearly forgotten, the old house of Lily Larouche.

From the highway the ruby palace sparkled silently. Come a couple of miles closer, though, and you could hear the buzz of voices--closer, and squeals of laughter, snatches of music, raucous shouts--Lily Larouche was throwing a party.

The last hundred yards and suddenly the ruby palace loomed all around, slumping and sprawling over acres of sand and weeds like a monstrous, glittering cake. Its garden swarmed with exotic flowers, vegetables of startling colors, and dark ponds with fat, ill-tempered toads; strings of lights were flung throughout the crooked trees, twinkling like fireflies, and torches flickered all along the stacked and twisting terraces.

Strange shapes moved in the shadows. A man dressed as an astronaut chatted with a devil. A gang of cavemen sipped fizzing cocktails. A Chinese emperor flirted with a robot, a pirate arm-wrestled a dinosaur, a giant worm dancedwith a refrigerator--it was Lily Larouche's Christmas costume party, and all her old friends had come.
A blossoming bush grew on the garden patio. At first the bush seemed ordinary; but then two green eyes flashed inside it, and stared. It was a thirteen-year-old girl, small and thin, with brown skin and black bobbed hair. Her name was Jo Larouche. She was Lily Larouche's niece. She also lived at the ruby palace, and she was spying.
"Where did he go?" Jo took a bite of her scrambled-egg sandwich and watched the party intensely. Jo never talked to Aunt Lily's friends, but she loved spying on them.

They usually ignored her--but tonight's party was different.

Tonight someone was watching her.

A fat man was looking for her.

Jo's eyes darted over the crowd. The fat man had been wearing what looked like a military uniform, staring at her across the patio, tugging his beard and pointing at his stomach, rumbling something in a Russian accent. Jo had no idea what. One thing was for sure: the fat Russian was nobody she or Aunt Lily knew.
She couldn't see him anymore--maybe he had left. Good. She intended to enjoy tonight. Jo closed her eyes and inhaled the familiar smell of Aunt Lily's parties: the lemony smoke of tiki torches; the clashing, flowery perfumes; the warm musk of cigarettes . . .

She heard Aunt Lily's name.

Jo peered out of the bush. A couple of feet away, a woman disguised as an enormous eggplant was talking to a man dressed like a UFO.

"Did you see?" whispered the eggplant. "Lily's gone nuts again."

"Cracked as a crawdad, and worse every year," said the UFO. "The woman's going to hurt herself."

"It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the poor girl. Do you know, I've never even seen her?"

"I heard she's some kind of freak, actually," said the UFO. "Remember what the newspapers said about her being 'dangerous'?"

Jo crouched back and frowned. So Aunt Lily was causing trouble again. She wasn't surprised. But there was a chance Aunt Lily might go too far, get herself hurt. . . . Jo rocked back and forth, hesitating. No, she had to see what Aunt Lily was up to. She picked up her cocktail tray and crept out from the bush.

At once Jo was swallowed up in the party's shimmering confusion. Nobody noticed her in her plain black dress, but she preferred it that way. She hated attention.
Aunt Lily, on the other hand . . .

Jo scanned the crowd, biting her lip. It was true--Aunt Lily was getting worse. Jo remembered the party a couple of years ago, when Aunt Lily had dived, still in her cocktail dress, into the swimming pool; the year after that, when Aunt Lily had poured bleach into the champagne punch; last year, when Aunt Lily had kicked another old lady in the teeth. . . .

Where is she? Jo's head buzzed as the lights and noise of the party swirled around her. She turned back toward the palace; maybe she'd find her in--

Just then someone crashed into Jo, knocking her to the ground, spilling her tray and
breaking the cocktail glasses on the bricks. It was a boy dressed as a hedgehog, a lanky seventeen-year-old with greasy hair. "Watch it!" he snarled.

Jo looked up, shaken. "Hey, you ran into me."

"Tough. Who're you, anyway?" The hedgehog looked closer. "Oh, wait. You're that girl?"

Jo got to her feet. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"You don't look so dangerous to me," said the hedgehog with a smirk, and then he walked away.

Jo didn't have time for this; her heart was beating too hard, she had to find Aunt Lily--but she heard herself shout, "Hey! Get back here!"

"INDEED!" roared a voice behind her.

Jo turned, startled. It was the fat Russian again--where had he come from?--a lumbering, shaggy, harrumphing, absurdly dignified mastodon of a man, with twitching white whiskers and a gleaming uniform, swinging a great black cane.

"I will take it from here, Miss Larouche," he rumbled. "You, sir! Hedgehog! Turn around and apologize!"

"Mind your own business," said the hedgehog.

"APOLOGIZE!" said the Russian.

Jo looked from the Russian to the hedgehog with alarm. People were whispering and glancing over at them; the Russian was jabbing the hedgehog with his cane.

"You, sir, are disturbing my DIGESTION!" said the Russian.

"Hey! Stop that!" said the hedgehog.

"Do you understand what it means to disturb my digestion, sir?" said the Russian.

"That even now, my stomach rumbles with contempt? That my kidneys flood with excruciating acids? That my entire gastrointestinal tract revolts at your ungentlemanly conduct?"

The hedgehog squinted. "Who cares about your stupid gastrointestinal--"

The Russian roared, swinging his cane--crack!--and the hedgehog howled, clutching his head, staggering backward.

"My digestion is not mocked!" boomed the Russian. "Nor will I stand idly by while Miss Larouche is insulted! You are banished, hedgehog! My digestion has spoken--BEGONE!"

The hedgehog wavered; the Russian advanced, waggling his cane; finally the hedgehog swore, and stumbled off into the darkness.

Jo glanced around, flustered. More and more guests were staring, and now the Russian was stooping down to her. "Miss Larouche! I hope--"

"Who are you?" said Jo.

"Who am . . . Oh! My apologies." The Russian bowed. "I am Anatoly Korsakov, colonel. I have been trying to speak with you. Where were you?"

"Um . . . in that bush."

"Brilliant. Excellent strategy. We have enemies everywhere." Colonel Korsakov nodded. "But you need not hide anymore, for I shall protect you! And what is more, Jo Larouche, I have it on unimpeachable authority that tonight you shall receive a gift!"

"Wait, wait!" said Jo. "How do you know who I am?"

"My digestion," said Colonel Korsakov. "It whispers secrets and instructions to me. And this very moment, Miss Larouche, my digestion advises us to be on guard. I have dispatched my partner, Sefino, to patrol the grounds for suspicious characters."

"You're the most suspicious character I've ever met."

From the Hardcover edition.


Excerpted from The Order of Odd-Fish by James Kennedy
Copyright © 2008 by James Kennedy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

The Order of Odd-Fish is James Kennedy’s first novel. He lives with his wife in Chicago.

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Order of Odd-Fish 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jo Larouche, was...........an ordinary girl. She was found by her 'aunt' Lily Larouche in the washing machine of the Ruby Palace with a note saying 'BEWARE..........THIS IS A DANGEROUS BABY'. Jo was living a normal life back then untill her fatill 13.................... After a few months, Jo found out that she was the Hazlewood baby..............which ment she was the............Itchala!!!!! The all devouring mother!!! She had destroyed one whole neighboorhood because of her birth! The silent sisters are the reason why Jo is the Itchala......they had to pick a women who would make the Itchala baby...........and they choose the Hazlewood baby. The silent sisters choose the happy married couple of the Halewood family to do it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read. A funny yet serious book its my all time favorite. Read it about 21 times and im only 15
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book two years ago from my dad on my birthday and i loved it ever since this is my second read. It makes me happy, it helpes me find my happy place when i cant find it anywhere else. Find yours.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Order of the Odd Fish is a histaricly funny book and will be leaving you with either a dry thoat or wet pants. I for one love comedys and this totally satisfied my urge for a good laugh. Every time you put down the book, you will be left with something to think about. This book suits people who love comedys and misterys, but I think anybody who is ten or older and with a great longing for a good laugh, this book is for you! Chizz 331
Oscar Im More than 1 year ago
5 star book! Best ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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DragonHeart More than 1 year ago
Very good book. It started out kind of slow, but picked up more when the dude in the hedgehog suit got conked out by a random box falling out of the sky. The writing was funny, but you had to be patient with the two different stories that really only meet twice. There's supposed to be a prequel and a few sequels, and when they comes out, i'll definitely be reading them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story is familiar and original at the same time. Mr. Kennedy's use of the english language is a wonderful labryinth of puns and humor waiting to be discovered by an unsuspecting reader. This book should be on the New York Best Seller list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lindsey_Miller More than 1 year ago
At first, I didn't know what to expect from this book. It had gotten mixed reviews for various reasons, especially the ways Kennedy composes sentence structure. However, long, sometimes confusing sentences aside, I feel like the critics were wrong on this one. It's a wonderfully imaginative book the likes of which we haven't seen since The Phantom Tollbooth, and in many ways reminds me of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Kennedy not only creates a totally unique world and landscape, but does an excellent job of defining the rules of this world, and describing how everything looks so that you can imagine along with him. My biggest gripe, often, with alternate world fantasy is that the description isn't enough to really imagine what's happening. The characters are endearing, and original in their own right. The Odd Fish are exactly what you think they would be, terribly odd. Odd in everything, in fact, including their topic of study, the way they talk to each other and dress, the house they live in, and even the servants are all giant cockroaches who act like pretentious British butlers. I recommend this to all readers 10+. Lindsey Miller, www.lindseyslibrary.com
Tam-the-lovely More than 1 year ago
The Order of the Odd Fish was the most unique book I think I've ever read. It was very well written and had an amazingly diverse amount of characters. Very good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Jo Larouche has always been ordinary - or as ordinary as you can be when you live in a ruby palace with a highly eccentric retired movie star for an aunt. Though she was found in her aunt Lily's laundry room with a note detailing her as a dangerous baby, Jo has been for all of her thirteen years just about as dangerous as a glass of milk.

Things begin to change when strange events at Lily's Christmas party contrive to send Jo and Lily out of California and into a fantastical land called Eldritch City, where they are taken in by the Order of Odd-Fish, an eclectic collection of knights devoted entirely to the research of useless information. But that's just the beginning, for as Jo finds a new place for herself in Eldritch City, she also becomes entangled in a dangerous game with the Belgian Prankster, a villain who appears to be seeking the downfall of the city Jo has begun to call home.

A rollicking adventure for all ages, THE ORDER OF ODD-FISH has something for every lover of all things ridiculous. From obtuse and elaborate dueling rituals to cockroach butlers obsessed with seeking fame to a villain so sinister he can even make balloon animals terrifying, James Kennedy piles on oddities so fast that you can't help but dive in, and enjoy the stay.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with Aimee: the 'official' reviewers at Kirkus and School Library Journal just have it wrong! This book is weird, wonderful and laugh-out-loud funny. Thirteen year-old Jo has spent her life taking care of her aging aunt Lily, an outrageous, flamboyant, ex-Hollywood starlet with a mysterious past. Through a series of exciting events, she and Lily travel to Eldritch City, the magical land of Jo's birth. There, Jo learns the truth about her parents and the mystery of her birth, while going on crazy adventures and meeting wild and fun characters. This book is like 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' meets Roald Dahl meets 'Harry Potter.' I think this book will find it's audience and readers who like it will REALLY love it. Sure, it may not be for everyone, but kids and adults who enjoy absurd, funny, over-the-top, ambitious humor mixed with adventure shouldn't miss Odd-Fish!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was GREAT! I'm not certain why some of the 'Professional' reviewers found the book wanting. But this 'layman' reviewer found it very worthy. Perhaps the prose is better understood by an older audience, due to the many puns, sarcasms and jokes that have depth and hidden meaning. But, like myself, any bibliophile will find great pleasure. WARNING: The book is an easy read, if not a bit over-the-top...but so much fun!