Ahoy there me mateys! It be no secret that I adore Garth Nix. He was the first author featured in me Broadside No. 1 and I have re-read the Old Kingdom series many times over the years. So I was super happy to finally read his newest standalone book.
I have to admit that this be different in what I was expecting. It does not have Nix’s usual complex world building or characterization. The beginning was a bit rough in the sense that the main character, Susan, has no idea what is going on and no one will tell her anything. So the first half of the book is Susan being dragged everywhere and things happening to her and no real explanation of anything. In fact the booksellers and other world really never do get dealt with satisfactorily. Also the book is set in 1983 but it could have been set at any time other than a few specific items.
That said, the second half picked up in terms of action and I liked it a lot more. Susan finally takes a more active role. There are delightful forays into British folklore and myth. I enjoyed the playful word usage. I enjoyed Merlin being gender fluid and having a wonderful relationship with his sister. The ending was fun. I have no regrets about reading this one but I am not sure I would ever read it again. Arrrrr!
Side note: The story of how and why Nix chose to write this book were cute.
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn’t get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin.
Merlin is a young left-handed bookseller (one of the fighting ones), who with the right-handed booksellers (the intellectual ones), are an extended family of magical beings who police the mythic and legendary Old World when it intrudes on the modern world, in addition to running several bookshops.
Susan’s search for her father begins with her mother’s possibly misremembered or misspelt surnames, a reading room ticket, and a silver cigarette case engraved with something that might be a coat of arms.
Merlin has a quest of his own, to find the Old World entity who used ordinary criminals to kill his mother. As he and his sister, the right-handed bookseller Vivien, tread in the path of a botched or covered-up police investigation from years past, they find this quest strangely overlaps with Susan’s. Who or what was her father? Susan, Merlin, and Vivien must find out, as the Old World erupts dangerously into the New.
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Previous Log Entries for this Author
Nix, Garth (Broadside No. 1)
lirael – book 2 (Second Reflections – YA Fantasy)
goldenhand – book 5 (Captain’s Log – YA Fantasy)
frogkisser! (Captain’s Log – YA Fantasy)
angel mage (Captain’s Log – Fantasy)