Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.
I'm just trying to light up the world as much as I can one SciFi/paranormal/fantasy/space opera/time travel book at a time.
I have seen mixed reviews for this book but the premise sounded too good to pass up PLUS it's a Garth Nix novel. It's set in 1983.... an era I think we, as a species, could have easily skipped right over with minimal regret BUT Garth Nix is an awesome writer and an extremely imaginative one to boot soooooo here we are.
I'm glad I didn't miss this read because I enjoyed every second (a little less so with that ending but overall a great experience)! Here we have some of England's Old World mythology mixed with Magically Realistic, modern Urban Fantasy and you know what?? That sounds like a big steaming pile of mish mosh BUT, on the whole, it meshed together nicely. The old school Magic blended seamlessly with the New... so much so that I could easily convince myself that all of the mystical, magical chaos within the book is real and happening in our own Reality. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't but either way it is GREAT fun imagining the possibilities. This Alt-London seems like a place I'd like to live in... well, as long as I can be a bookseller... or an Old One... they both kick ass!
The world building was exciting and evocative. Sadly, I'm not completely familiar with the places named BUT the descriptions were so emotive that I felt surreally connected to them. They intrigued me enough to want to pack my bags and go on an adventure... maybe not like Susan, Merlin and Vivien but a romp through the streets of London sounds idyllic. Look out England, I'm on my way... just kidding, we're in the middle of a global pandemic but it's a trip I will absolutely be putting in my Wish Jar that's full of places and things I want to do and see as soon as it's safe to be out and about, in a normal(ish) capacity, with other human beings.
Anyway... Enough about Covid and more about Magic!
The characters are next. They were distinct and full of personality. Merlin and his sister, Vivien, were my favorite MCs though there were characters here for all types. This was mainly a coming of age story for Susan... a slightly fickle, naive18 year old girl that was yanked right out of her comfortable, cozy life while searching for her biological dad. Who or what is he?? Therefore who or what is she?? You have to read to find out BUT just know that it was a decent plot discovery. The three MCs, Susan, Merlin and Vivien ran around trying to find clues as to the identity of Susan's father, why people were out to kill her and who the hell was behind all of the madness? Was there a traitor? Who could they trust in a world occupied with all sorts and manner of beasties that looked at them like the lunch bell rang and they're on the menu? Who will aid them against the malevolent creatures both dead and undead coupled with the rest of the nefarious things that go bump in the night? This wasn't a horror book but there were a plethora of beings like Goblins, Cauldron Born (zombies), giant inter-dimentional Wolves, Water Sprites, Scarecrow Watchers and more... all out looking for Susan. Why her? Why now? Good questions! With all of this death and betrayal who could they go to for help with finding out these answers? Who will help them rectify all of the wrongs committed as well as help them navigate their seemingly insurmountable Destiny?
The writing was solid. The short poems at the start of each chapter were unique. I especially loved one that spoke about the Night and Day only having fleeting moments together... it was beautiful!
AND then there was that ending. It felt completely out of step with the rest of the book. It was rushed, convenient and a bit of a letdown if I'm being perfectly honest. I get that it was probably left a bit ambiguous on purpose in order to allow for a possible sequel but the ending we were given, especially the epilogue, was the worst part of the whole book. It wasn't a complete hot mess but this definitely could have been a 5 Star book if the ending were tweaked a bit.
This book was addictive and creative and I found it difficult to put down. I adored everything about it... well almost everything... that's right Epilogue, I'm looking at you... but honestly I loved it! The duality between the Left-handed and Right-handed booksellers and all of the wonderful things they were able to do was entertaining. The Left-Handed Booksellers of London is good clean fun and for me to be enamored with it to the degree that I am is a testament to its efficacy.
Looking for a fun, unique read with a magical coming of age aspect + a very very slow (cheeky) burn? Then you want to be here. There are all sorts of creatures and beings... friends forged in life threatening chaos...and Betrayal(??). I look forward to book#2... if there will be one... man I hope there will be because I think Garth Nix has given us a tale with tons of possibility... it hurts to think it could be left hanging in limbo. Well, time will tell.