The Left-Handed Booksellers of London
By Garth Nix
(393 pages, young adult fantasy, 2020)
Darkness, meet Whimsy
About to start art school in London, Susan leaves her childhood home to move to the big city. As she looks for jobs there she also searches for her father, 18 years absent. Her few clues to track him down are an old reading room ticket as well as a silver engraved cigarette case. Her adventure begins in earnest when she witnesses a family friend disintegrate at the touch of a silver hat pin, wielded by a strange and alluring young bookseller by the name of Merlin. What comes is a whirlwind adventure for Susan, Merlin, and the rest of the family of booksellers, charged with keeping the peace between reality as it is constructed and the realms of the fae. Can the booksellers help Susan find her father? Does his disappearance somehow connect to the death of Merlin’s own mother? Will Susan and the booksellers uncover deep mysteries, or is it better to let lie that which is hidden in order to keep peace?
This is a fast-paced plunge into another of Garth Nix’s worlds, tantalizingly placed on the cusp of our very own. As was the case with his Abhorsen trilogy, this book plays in the liminal space between darkness and whimsy. Nix toys with conceptions of reality, gender, and booksellers, creating a fun landscape with his characteristically strong heroine and a novel plotline.
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