Thursday, July 13, 2023

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London - Garth Nix

My reading, and in this case listening, is still skewing towards easy/comforting. I've looked at this Garth Nix title a couple of times at work and wondered if I'd enjoy it which made it a perfect audible choice. As far as I'm concerned it remained a perfect audible choice in that I liked it well enough to think I'll listen to it again, but also suspect I'd have got a bit bored with it as a book. 

Garth Nix is better known for his young adult books - this one is technically for adults, though as is often the case I can't honestly see what the difference would be. The protagonists are in their late teens and there's nothing objectionable, or particularly emotionally difficult, in the content, though it is at least a book that I could definitely enjoy as a middle-aged woman - mostly because of the many excellent literary jokes and references (some of which may go over the heads of younger readers). 

The Booksellers are a shadowy group of semi-supernatural beings whose job it is to protect the public from ancient and mythical powers whilst also selling a few books. The left-handed booksellers are the hands-on fighting types, the right-handed booksellers are the thinkers. 

Susan Arkshaw moves to London a few months before she's due to start at the Slade (in an alternate 1983) with the intention of finding her father armed with the few clues her mother, who apparently took too much acid in the 60s and can't really remember any details, has to his possible identity. Strange things start to happen almost immediately and then she meets Merlin (left-handed) and his sister Vivian (right-handed) who are investigating their mother's murder in their spare time.

Merlin and Susan quickly hit it off, the three of them go on an epic quest, and the booksellers prevail. There are dogs, jokes, and lots of literary allusions, and the audible version has an excellent narrator. It's what I think of as perfect holiday reading - a book that I think most people could pick up and more or less enjoy if they like fiction, so easily sharable. There's a sequel (The Sinister Booksellers of Bath) which I'll probably listen to as well at some point but beyond that, there's not much to say about it except maybe that it's the kind of reading I need right now. 

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