October 31 2020
The left-handed booksellers of London, by Garth Nix
“Books help us anchor our souls.”
There are a few things that will make me insta-buy or read a book. Neil Gaiman’s name on the cover, for one. Alternate histories, for another. Books that deal with book stores, and/or libraries? Sign me up.
On paper (pun intended) this should have been my book. I loved the premise, and the characters were just wonderful. Merlin and his confidence in expressing his gender fluidity is a delight. Sally, not quite knowing who she is and where she fits as she searches for her father, felt particularly real to me. I loved the value that books played in this almost urban fantasy set in an almost 1983 London, and squealed with joy over the Penguin room and the book pyramid (no spoilers!) I loved that, in difficult times, Merlin hunted for a book to read to help centre and calm him. I loved the historical references to books and TV shows that I recognised – I won’t mention them all here, but there were a few in particular that made me happy in my heart.
But – yes there’s a but. It felt like this was a book I’d have really loved if I’d read it at another time, but today it was just a book I pretty much enjoyed. I think that’s on me rather than the intricately detailed world that Garth Nix has created. If fantasy in mostly recognisable worlds is your thing, and you love a good book which values books and bookstores as part of its narrative, I’d recommend giving The Left-Handed Booksellers of London a go. I’d like to think I could be a left handed bookseller, but I’m pretty sure I’d be more likely to be a right handed one. And that’s ok too.