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Earth, Air, Fire and Custard (J. W. Wells & Co. #3)

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  1,461 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
J.W. Wells seemed to be a respectable establishment, but the company now paying Paul Carpenter’s salary is, in fact, a deeply sinister organization with a mighty peculiar management team. Paul thought he was getting the hang of it—particularly when he fell head over heels for his strangely alluring colleague, Sophie—but death is never far away when you work at J.W. Wells. ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Little, Brown Book Group (first published February 1st 2005)
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Community Reviews

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Liza H
Feb 08, 2010 Liza H rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: done
Compared to the first two books,this book felt like a bit of a hot mess. There was way too much of a add-as-you-go plotline... seriously like the author was just making it up as he went along, and had to keep stopping in order for some character to take up 2-3 pages of text to explain what was going on. Not fun. I just barely finished it -- it was one of the rare times that I was annoyed enough that I almost just quit reading it.
May 31, 2011 Caleb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
This review is going to sort of cover the previous two books in the series as well -- The Portable Door and In Your Dreams. The main idea of this series is pretty funny -- my summary is, "take Harry Potter and turn it into The Office". Boring bloke gets a sucky job at a corporation that, turns out, is actually all about magic. Hijinks ensue. What more could you want?

Well, it could have been a little better. More Office Space and less The Office would have been nice. The main character's horrible
Jan 30, 2014 Eve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the further adventures of Paul Carpenter the hapless hero from both The Portable Door and In Your Dreams. While the first two books were (more or less) kind of straight forward adventures, this one is more nuts. And I say that as a fan of comedy fantasy...I suspect Tom Holt smoked a lot of joints and drank a lot of gin. The plot moves around so fast its hard to keep up.

Who are the bad guys? What's the deal with the fae? If Paul Carpenter is so desperate for love, why doesn't he just join
Sadie-jane (sj) alexis nunis
tom holt always helps me relax. he doesn't disappoint with this one either. in the vein of robert Rankin, Christopher Moore, and hints of Douglas Adams, we reenter the portable door once again for adventure, fun, and silly madness
W konkursie na najdziwniejszy tytuł powieść „Ziemia, powietrze, ogień i… budyń” z pewnością zajęłaby wysoką lokatę, a może nawet otarła się o zwycięstwo. Cudownie absurdalny i intrygujący, jest równocześnie zwodniczym, bowiem Tomowi Holtowi nie wystarczyło kreatywności na wypełnienie pozostałych stron w sposób równie błyskotliwy i zabawny.

Główny bohater, Paul Carpenter, od dziewięciu miesięcy jest zatrudniony w firmie J.W. Wells & Co, specjalizującej się w świadczeniu magicznych usług. Paul,
Jul 05, 2007 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Terry Pratchett in search of something a little bit weirder
Shelves: fantasy, comedy
I've *finally* finished a book! Its taken me months to read this novel, but I've made it to the end...

But don't take the fact that its taken me so long as a critique on the book itself. The reality is that my life has been taken over by becoming a Dad to an adorable little girl. She's taken far more of my time than books have! The fact that I persisted in fact should show that its worthwhile keeping going with the text!

The story itself concerns a put upon loser, Paul Carpenter. His parents have
Nathan Dehoff
May 13, 2016 Nathan Dehoff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wraps up the story of Paul Carpenter, the hero of the first two books in the series. Like most of Holt's protagonists, he's a hapless everyman who gets caught up in bizarre adventures, and eventually finds out he's part goblin. Here, he learns that he's also undead, and was involved in a Viking duel a millennium before he was born. It's a pretty convoluted story, and since monster slayer Ricky Wurmtoter turns out to be a centuries-old king, I'm not sure how he had a living sister in the pre ...more
Jun 22, 2008 Sian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes adventure that moves quickly and is slightly crazy
Recommended to Sian by: My Father:>{
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 30, 2012 Traummachine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This third installment at the evil firm of J.W. Wells & Co. introduces a new partner in the firm who seems to like Paul and wants to help him, and Paul doesn't trust that in the slightest. As usual, Paul trusts himself even less, is his own worst enemy, and has to muddle through unraveling the evil schemes of upper management.

Like Paul, I was completely confused for the first half of the book. I'd just started to get frustrated by it when the tumblers started falling into place. Earth, Air,
Apr 12, 2011 Trayana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, humor, owned, eng
Мислите, че имате лош късмет? Не бих казала. Представете си пълния неудачник – вземете нескопосания колега, който винаги има проблеми с компютъра си, прибавете спънатия съсед с уши като сателитни чинии, добавете влюбчивия ви съученик от гимназията с лабрадорски поглед. Представихте ли си го? А сега го умножете по три и ще получите бледо подобие на Пол Карпентър – героят на нашата история.

Старата и уважавана фирма J.W. Wells може да ви предложи всичко – от летящи килимчета до планирани икономичес
Oct 30, 2012 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Well it began to redeem itself, but then all the explanations... chapters of them! And despite the contrivance, it still didn't explain things very well... I understood okay, but there are holes. It's like he set up all sorts of weird crap, and then was unable to resolve it properly. Are you subbing the writing to minions, Mr Holt? Because this has been a drag. I'm trying to think if any of it was enjoyable, and certainly some of the running around in the middle was, and bits of the explanation, ...more
Niels Bugge
All what was good in the first book of the trilogy was missing, and all that was bad was worse.

I liked the inspired snarkyness, observations and comparisons, and somewhat entertaining plot in the first book, and disliked the unpleasant characters.

But this series has been rapidly declining:

The characters are still unpleasant, the main character is marginally less useless, but still a whiny bitch, and the plot was too convoluted and uninteresting. So with inspired observations and comparisons dryi
Isabel (kittiwake)
'I have a feeling that it won't take me very long at all to get settled in here. If I may say so, Mr Tanner, you run a tight ship.'
(What did that mean, exactly? A ship that never bought a round? A ship that kept getting wedged in the entrances to small harbours?)

The third book in the series that started with "The Portable Door", in which Paul Carpenter has numerous problems at work, dies several more times, and continues his love-hate relationship with his colleague and ex-girlfriend Sophie Pett
Claire O-P
May 16, 2012 Claire O-P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A follow on from 'The Portable Door' (and possibly another in between them, but I couldn't work out which one), it's a very grounded view on the fantasy world. J.W.Wells is a company specialising in magical solutions, a very Fortune-500 company style workplace. Paul and Sophie have found themselves part of it - Paul because his parents sold his soul to the company as a baby - and are constantly struggling to keep on top of the machinations of their superiors. I love Tom Holt's work, I really nee ...more
May 02, 2014 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are books you read at certain points in your life that speak to you. Tom Holt's stories, these three in particular, had me hooked. Even a few experiences the characters had, I too experienced (my girlfriend was replaced by a goblin - no, wait, I was fired). Witty, perfect, special and endlessly endearing. These are the kinds of stories I would aspire to write, because as far-fetched as some of the concepts seem, they're far too human as well.

Beautiful book from a wonderful writer who can
Jonathan Lupa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Huw Evans
Aug 22, 2011 Huw Evans rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, humour
Urgh. I like Tom Holt and his ability to create a parallel world within the one we recognise and I thank him for softening me up to read Terry Pratchett. He writes well, with humour and perspective and hsi retelling of mythology is often masterly (cf Snow White and the Seven Samurai, or Grailblazers). This book is just a shambles, a development too far, of the JW Wells series. I disliked intensely the TV series, "The Office" and this book seemed to be in a similar genre. I will re-read his earli ...more
This is probably the worst in the series, the last third of it was really confusing and should've ended long before it finally did; the problem was solved, the bad guys were dead, and everything was explained in boring detail, twice, but things just kept happening for no apparent reason. So why did I give this 3 stars? Because it started out pretty good, I like the series, and I love the characters. This was a disappointing ending to Paul Carpenter's story but worth reading if you like the serie ...more
Jul 28, 2011 Bernard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
The third in the H.W. Wells & Co series, it's my least favorite so far. I love how it starts out, but then things get twisted and turned and the final third of the book is close to boring. When characters have to keep explaining what is happening to each other, perhaps the author has been gratuitously complex. Poorly handled time-travel and confusing alternate dimensions muddle up the plot, badly.

So why three stars? Because the first part of the book is lovely, particularly with the protagon
Nov 03, 2011 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book. Bit drawn out with the always trying to make some obscure reference that I've never heard before. Paul seems to be the typical dull English bore with the knack to get through the most absurd circumstances. It sometimes feels like the same joke over and over again but with the twists and turns of the plot turns out to be a great story for anyone into the comedy science fiction category.
Julie P
The third book in the Paul Carpenter trilogy that details his complex office environment, co-workers, and his love affair with Sophie. A satisfying read, if for nothing than to round out the trilogy, but a word of caution - definitely read these books in order or you will never understand. Ever. I've read the other two and still had trouble with some of the double-dealing characters and situations that Paul encounters.
Aug 02, 2014 Vidya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wacky sense of humour!!!liked it in bits and pieces..initially it was a bit confusing as i had not read his previous works..but enjoyed it as it progressed.....His imagination is totally wild and random!! The characters are human though they are in a magical land!and after a long time i enjoyed an ending!!!!
Jun 03, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last of the J.W. Wells trilogy. The ending was a big surprise to me and I'm still mulling over whether I liked it our not. As with a good mystery, the clues were all over the place, but I was still caught completely off guard. Again, though, the book is delightfully well-written and full of belly-laughs.
Oct 04, 2013 Stuart rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really weird! Interesting construction and good ideas, but towards the end found myself thinking please just get to the point! Wouldn't read any more of his books by choice having read this, sort of gave me a headache trying to keep up with it. Not that it's complicated, more that it seems he was going all out to try and make it clever with various twists etc
Jul 04, 2016 Anita rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
It was.....a lot. Like someone took the storyline, shredded it into pieces and then randomly put the pieces together, but lost some in the process. The narration here is annoying and I hate when they mess with time-travelling in any other ways than the 'Harry Potter style' or the 'alternative-dimension' style. I would not recommend this book.
Rich Meyer
Really wanted to like this one, and this series, but there's far too much of the exact same stuff that went on in the previous books, and a quarter of the way in to this one, I really can't justify wasting the time to continue reading the same story a third time. I like most of Tom Holt's books, but this series isn't his best by a long shot.
Meh. I loved the first two in the JWW series, but this was tough going and too heavily reliant on some very heavy handed exposition. It was pretty poor in places, pages of reveal by one character (no spoilers here) left me feeling a bit cheated after the great crafting of 'The Portable Door'. Hopefully the next will be better, otherwise, I'm going to feel very cheated...
Feb 06, 2013 Liana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful conclusion to the trilogy! Pacing is deliberate, and it was full of twists, turns, and outright teleportations, and humor. I could not wait to see what would happen next. Will definitely read more by Tom Holt.
Kate Millin
Feb 27, 2012 Kate Millin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The third and, I think, final one in the series - as good, and off the wall as the earlier ones. You have to keep reading as you cannot guess which way the narrative will jump next - custard as the alternative dimension for example
Sep 18, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first introduction to Tom Holt, and it was a splendid introduction. Very funny, loved the pseudo-science and the general randomness. A rare example of a book I really looked forward to getting time to read.
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Tom Holt (Thomas Charles Louis Holt; born September 13, 1961) is a British novelist.
He was born in London, the son of novelist Hazel Holt, and was educated at Westminster School, Wadham College, Oxford, and The College of Law, London.
Holt's works include mythopoeic novels which parody or take as their theme various aspects of mythology, history or literature and develop them in new and often humor
More about Tom Holt...

Other Books in the Series

J. W. Wells & Co. (7 books)
  • The Portable Door (J. W. Wells & Co., #1)
  • In Your Dreams (J. W. Wells & Co., #2)
  • You Don't Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But it Helps (J. W. Wells & Co., #4)
  • The Better Mousetrap (J. W. Wells & Co., #5)
  • May Contain Traces of Magic (J. W. Wells & Co., #6)
  • Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages (J. W. Wells & Co., #7)

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