- Published in 2019 by Margaret K. Elderry
- Format: Audiobook
- Narrator: Emily Ellet
- Listening Speed: 1x
- Listening Time: 8 exciting days
- A book that isn’t part of one of my reading challenges? It has been a long time, hasn’t it? This has been on my TBR for quite some time and the audiobook has been lingering in my Audible library for months. So, when I ran out of reading challenge audiobooks, I finally picked this one up. I’ve heard some mixed reviews of it so I’m going in with tempered expectations.
- Set in world with an age-old enmity between the sorcerers and the librarians that keep their Grimoires from becoming terrifying leather-bound monsters (and, I mean terrifying – quick content warning for body horror). Elisabeth, a foundling who has never known life outside Austermeer’s Great Library, has to face the worst one the library has to offer when the most dangerous Grimoire is deliberately let loose by an unknown saboteur. Elisabeth is implicated and thrown out of the Library into the care of sorcerers, the people she has been taught to despise, and into a corrupt world that is completely alien to her sheltered existence.
- Pacing is very good and the story kept my hooked almost all the way through. It got a little slow after Elisabeth’s first real victory (that’s when the author decided to fill the gap with romance) but it got back up to speed again once the villain made his countermove. We got some excellent action scenes and some great scenes throughout the book. I’d be hardpressed to be pick a favourite. Probably a toss-up between the escape from the hospital and the final showdown.
- Interesting world building, especially around the Grimoires who each have their own individual characteristics and can becomes monsters if handled carelessly. At first, the Grimoires are shown as dangerous, evil things that need to be kept locked away under the appropriate level of security. Just as Elizabeth’s world expands as soon as she steps out of the library, however, the reader is shown that not all sorcerers and not all Grimoires are evil. Some have quirky personalities and there are even some good comedy moments around some of the less harmless Grimoires. I just wish there could have been more world building in general. I can gather that the libraries are very insular, the outside world has a Victorian-ish culture and demons are commonplace but I would have liked a bit more detail on the hierarchy of the Magisters and the laws around certain spells.
- Romance didn’t come completely out of nowhere but it could have been slightly better executed. Mostly because one of the characters wasn’t as well developed as the other (see below) but also because it felt a little out of place. The story could have functioned perfectly well without adding any romance.
- I liked the characters. One can see how Elisabeth’s views towards sorcerers like Nathaniel change as she is forced to ally herself with him. Her change in perspective is very believable, as are the mistakes when she first enters into modern society after spending all her life in a Great Library. Most importantly, she learns from them and pushes the story forward, proactively looking for clues and trying to figure out their next move with some very good plans. Nathanial, on the other hand, feels a bit flat compared to her. He has a tragic past and has a distaste for the high society he’s thrust in but he seems a bit of an aimless character. Unlike Elisabeth, he doesn’t have a grand mission or even much of a goal other than trying not to get in too much trouble. Silas, Nathaniel’s demonic servant, was the one that really grabbed me. He’s an absolute badass and, despite his human nature, can be very selfless though you wouldn’t know if from Elisabeth’s (and the reader’s) first impression of him.
- Nice narrative style and a good narration from the audiobook. The narrator did an excellent job of matching a voice with a character’s personality. The descriptions are nicely vivid and there are some lovely lyrical quotes in there.
- Good story that had a lot of promise but, in the end, didn’t quite match up to some of my other reads like The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Not to mention, it feels like all the ends were tied up a little too hastily and the open ending felt more like the author couldn’t make up their mind more than anything. So, this is on the high end of three stars. Around 3.5 stars rather than 3 stars outright.
Goodreads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
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