Book Review: The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix


It’s a 1983 that’s kinda different from actual 1983, but not by much? Either way, Susan Arkshaw is off to London to find her father, who she has never met. After her first lead goes way south, she stumbles into Merlin, a left-handed bookseller who topples her head-first into the world of magic, monsters and nefarious plots to gain power. Somehow, Susan as at the center of it all. She just has to find her father first.

After reading the absolutely abysmally plotted and paced Angel Mage, I was walking into this one with some trepidation. I love classic Garth Nix, in that I love Sabriel and the original Abhorsen trilogy, but I haven’t been able to find as much joy in any of his other works.

Most seem to tread along the same lines: Great Mysterious Evil is about to arise, a teen (or group of teens) race to stop it. There is a chase scene (or several, or the entire book is a chase/journey) where the intrepid youngsters almost get caught or escape just in the nick of time. Much adrenaline is expended. The Great Evil is revealed right at the end, and defeated just in time. Generally someone almost dies and is brought back. There might be a love relationships revealed at the very end.

I’m not gonna lie, there were some spoilers there, but if you’ve read a Garth Nix book recently, then you have…got this plot.

Anywho, this was very similar to many of his other works, but I loved the call-outs to books, and the love of books and the magic system of this one.

There are left-handed booksellers who are all brawn and speed and rawr, and the right-handed ones, who are the brains and magic and thinkers. The two sides of the family (a very extended family) wear gloves on whatever hand is their dominant one, and they reminded me so much of the Clayr librarians that I kinda squeed and just kept on squeeing, because I LOVE Lirael.

Anywho, the magic was pretty cool, as it dealt with a lot of earth magic and gods and whatnot of English mythology, was was interesting. And the magic itself was super cool. And I liked Merlin’s genderfluidity. I was less intrigued by the whole cauldron premise, mainly because cauldrons have been done to death (thank you SJM for murdering this plot point).

Fair warning: the beginning (especially that horrific prologue) was…incredibly rough. I almost DNF’d before getting to chapter one, because I just did not give a fuck and the writing was clunky and painful.

But it got better, and I ended up clicking right along to the ending.

It’s not Sabriel levels of awesome, but it was an enjoyable read with an interesting magic system (although the loophole ending is foreshadowed from a mile away).

I received this ARC from Edelweiss for an honest review

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