PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
This is the story of Susan who has travelled to London to try to find her father. We quickly discover that beneath the surface, London is teeming with ‘old world’ remnants. “Our” London is referred to as being part of the ‘New World’, and relations between the two are refereed by The Booksellers – a series of magical humans who also run bookshops.
With an early attempt on Susan’s life, the overall structure of the book is quickly established – a series of action sequences, with explanation as to what is going on, who everyone is, and how this world works. Much of the world building and backstory is repeated frequently, and this therefore means that there’s a very episodic air to the book.
The central trio of Susan, Merlin and Vivien are well-written and compelling and the world of the book-sellers is one we want to discover more about. When Nix allows himself to just tell Susan’s story is when this book is at its best – when it’s trying to be everything at the same time, then the story-telling becomes muddled. Nix has done his research, and we’re reminded repeatedly of the fact that we are in 1983 by the insertion of pop-culture facts related to the time.
The pace moves along swimmingly, making the book a quick and easy read, and there’s a distinct feeling that Nix is laying the ground for an ongoing series. Overall, this is an inoffensive Young Adult novel written by an author who plainly loves books, and who is paying homage to numerous other works of urban fantasy which preceded it.