I'm trying to recall the name of a book which follows the cast of a fantasy story when no one is reading. The characters in the book act out the story much like actors on a stage, and when someone is reading the story the characters can look up and see them. When the book is closed everyone is 'off duty'. The second book in the series involves the book being uploaded to the internet.

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    Welcome to Literature! This sounds like an interesting story, but it would probably be easier to find with some additional detail. For example: when did you read it? what kind of fantasy was it (epic fantasy in a medieval-style world, urban fantasy in the real modern world, ... )? was it written in English or translated? paperback or hardback? roughly how long was the book? how old? See also this checklist and the story-ID tag wiki.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 22:24
  • I think I might know this book, if it's not The Great Good Thing... I clearly remember a book with a Prince who undertakes quests in a book like in your question. However he is trying to get out of his book and the story ends with him (as far as I remember) succeeding. I clearly remember a scene where as he climbs a tower he mananges to write a word which the reader sees despite the fact that she (the reader) has never seen it before.... Does that sound familiar?
    – Mirte
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 16:13
  • Thanks a bunch, Ayshe and Mirte
    – mcargille
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:26

2 Answers 2


"The Great Good Thing" by Roderick Townley

Sylvie had an amazing life, but she didn't get to live it very often.

Sylvie has been a twelve-year-old princess for more than eighty years, ever since the book she lives in was first printed. She's the heroine, and her story is exciting -- but that's the trouble. Her story is always exciting in the same way. Sylvie longs to get away and explore the world outside the confines of her book.

When she breaks the cardinal rule of all storybook characters and looks up at the Reader, Sylvie begins a journey that not even she could have anticipated. And what she accomplishes goes beyond any great good thing she could have imagined...

The second book Into the Labyrinth's description is:

What a relief when the old storybook is republished and the characters who live inside it suddenly discover they have Readers again -- lots of Readers! Princess Sylvie finds herself rushing to get to her place whenever a new Reader -- whether in Boston or Bangkok -- opens the book. Her mother, the queen, is especially frazzled when the popular story is loaded onto the Web: a weightless, "virtual" world of unforeseen challenges.


The "Thursday Next" series by Jasper Fforde.

The series takes place in a "book world" where the "actors" live. Thursday Next is a detective with the ability to travel between the book world and the real world. The first book is The Eyre Affair and is followed by Lost in a Good Book, although I was not able to find the internet thing you mentioned. The series also takes place in an alt history setting if that helps.

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