Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Forbidden Library The Forbidden Library
by Django Wexler

Supplied for review by Random HouseNew Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

Apparently Wexler’s previous work was a series of sprawling fantasy doorstops called The Shadow Campaigns which I am not familiar with. This is a quite different beast, a fantasy novel with a historical setting for older children and younger young adults, and is consequently much shorter and more tightly written. For both of which we can be thankful!

His clever trick to establish the period of the setting worked for me, having his characters discussing newspaper articles about earthquakes in New Zealand and Managua, and a war in Spain, although I question whether a younger audience would get it. But then our young heroine discovers the hidden magic in her world and the fun starts.

I have to say that Wexler’s take on libriomancy works really well, better than I’ve come across before in many ways. His heroine, Alice, is well-realised, though I have my doubts about some of the supporting cast, whose motives are a bit obscure. I do think the choice of name was unwise - we already have our Alice; and we must blame the publisher for the blurb, which is so over-blown that it’s truly off-putting.

However, overall not a bad read, enjoyable by both children and adults; and with some truly memorable images, like the swarm and the evil wasp fairy! Oh, and there is a talking cat with plenty of cattitude… and it’s all set up for a sequel.

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