The Forbidden Library Review

theforbiddenlibraryThe Forbidden Library by Django Wexler, illustrations by Alexander Jansson

Kathy Dawson Books, 2014. 978-0-8037-3975-8

Synopsis: After witnessing a mysterious conversation between her father and a fairy, Alice’s father leaves on an ocean voyage from which he does not return. She is sent to live with a distant relation named Geryon, who is in possession of a most fantastic library that stretches the limits of even Alice’s imagination. But when she breaks the rules explores the library one night alone, she discovers that there is much more than books lurking in the stacks.

Why I picked it up: The youth services librarian where I volunteer pointed it out as a title his daughter was currently enjoying and the title was rather intriguing.

Why I finished it: Fantasy, it would appear, is a rather popular genre at the moment, but it seems difficult at times to find a good piece of fantasy literature that doesn’t feel like its borrowing heavily from its predecessors. Wexler has indeed borrowed from a grand literary tradition, but it is his imagined notion of a Reader, one who can delve so deeply into a book that they will find themselves literally within its pages, adds a level of imagination to the story. Much as a regular reader of books will tell you, there is something magical about the power of the written word, and Alice is slowly realizing that these words hold powers that are both powerful and deadly. It reminded me a lot of Funke’s Inkheart in which Meggie is able to pull characters from the pages of books, although Alice is finding herself stuck in the books and must find a way to get herself out. As Alice begins to navigate the dangerous world of a Reader, she meets several characters that will help her on her quest, though what role they will play in the larger plot (this book is the first in a series) remains to be seen. I loved the notion that cats just sort of loam about the library and take naps on the dusty shelves, and I feel like aside from all the dust and the impending doom, Greyon’s library would truly be a fantastic sight to see. Fun, fast-paced, and well formulated, Wexler’s first dive into middle grade literature is an intriguing story about finding ourselves and the hidden powers within us that can be enjoyed by readers (and Readers) of all ages.

Other related materials: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; Inkspell by Cornelia Funke; Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke; The Books of Elsewhere series by Jacqueline West; Coraline by Neil Gaiman; Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein; The Glass Sentence (The Mapmakers Trilogy, Book 1) by S.E. Grove; The Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White, illustrations by Andrea Offermann; Jinx by Sage Blackwood; The Copernicus Legacy: The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott, illustrations by Bill Perkins; The Wildwood Chronicles books by Colin Meloy, illustrations by Carson Ellis; 13 Treasures trilogy by Michelle Harrison; The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey

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