Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I acquired this book from an event in Waterstones, Leeds about six weeks ago. I was lucky enough to hear the author read from the novel and to have my copy signed.
The plot revolves around a librarian named Irene and her pupil, Kai, both of whom work for an inter-dimensional library which exists to preserve books from different realities (referred to as 'alternates'). They are sent on their first mission together to retrieve a book from an alternate London in which supernatural creatures have run amok, causing chaos to permeate the fabric of the world. Needless to say, they are not the only ones seeking the book and their mission is fraught with difficulty.
The setting is wonderful if you like Victorian cobbled streets, musty libraries and Holmesian detectives, with a sprinkling of zepplins, dragons and fairies. I do and absolutely drank in the atmosphere. For most of this book I was thoroughly engaged in the world the author has lovingly created and I was invested in the race to find the book. The writing, especially early on, is good and sparkles at times. I also remained interested in the plot as it was never obvious how aspects of it were going to resolve.
When I attended the event at Waterstones, I asked Genevieve why the book was categorised as adult fantasy, rather than young adult, as the premise sounded suited to a younger audience. I had not read the book at the time. In response I received a rather blank look and a simple answer along the lines that she had never even considered it a young adult read. Now, I am not big on categorisations and am not sure why I really asked the question. I think I was trying to understand how other people categorise books, as I'd heard so much about 'young adult' fiction and here was this book that sounded like it fell squarely within those parameters yet I was being told that it hadn't even been considered as such. Having read the book I am, if anything, more confused. I digress, I suppose. What I am getting at really is that I suspect that the younger me would have enjoyed this book more than the current me. I did really enjoy it but I can imagine absolutely loving it as a 10 to 15 year old and I hope that many people in this age range get to discover and enjoy it regardless of categorisations which seem fairly arbitrary at times.
Meeting the author always makes me look forward to reading a book a little bit more and, if I am being honest, I think it encourages me to view it more favourably than if I had just plucked it off the shelf. I suppose that is the power of a personal connection and is the reason why authors do these events. I think in this case, it certainly made a difference. It was a lovely read and I will read the sequel (it is book 1 of a proposed trilogy). In my opinion you would like it if light fantasy/steampunk is your thing and I also believe that it could do really well in the younger market. If the reviews on Amazon are anything to go by, it is finding its audience and providing a great deal of pleasure along the way. A strong debut.
I love most types of fiction - crime, mystery, fantasy. Oh, and historical fiction of course and middle-grade books and, well, you get the picture.
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