My Rating ~ Four Stars
RELEASE DATE: 29 September 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn’t get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin.
Merlin is a young left-handed bookseller (one of the fighting ones). With the right-handed booksellers (the intellectual ones), he belongs to an extended family of magical beings who police the mythic and legendary Old World when it intrudes on the modern world, in addition to running several bookshops.
Susan’s search for her father begins with her mother’s possibly misremembered or misspelled surnames, a reading-room ticket, and a silver cigarette case engraved with something that might be a coat of arms.
Merlin has a quest of his own: to find the Old World entity who used ordinary criminals to kill his mother. As he and his sister, a right-handed bookseller named Vivien, tread in the path of a botched or covered-up police investigation from years past, they find their quest strangely overlaps with Susan’s. Who or what was her father? Susan, Merlin, and Vivien must find out, as the Old World erupts dangerously into the New.
Thank you to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review!
Susan’s mother has never really spoken of Susan’s father, and certainly not enough for Susan to know who he is. She has a couple of (very useless ) clues though, so she’s determined to find him. After one of her leads catapults her into danger, where she meets Merlin, a Left Handed Bookseller, she suddenly finds herself learning about a whole new world – and hoping to at least escape with her life.
This book was fun, with a unique premise, and I really enjoyed the banter and dynamics between Merlin and his sister Vivian. Merlin especially was just so endearingly quirky. Although, I got a general idea of what made up the specialties of the Left and Right handed booksellers, but either I missed something, or I needed a bit more. It felt a little glossed over, without a real in-depth description of how it all worked. Susan was a fantastic character too – she was far from clueless but had a lot thrown at her in a short amount of time and did her best to try and get sense out of the (usually rather odd) booksellers, to continue on her quest.
The world building was so well written and had me immersed in the story right away, but for some reason I struggled slightly with concentrating on what was going on. That could have just been my state of mind at the time though because the story certainly had all the elements that make up a book I love! I absolutely love secret society type plots and The Left Handed Booksellers of London created a secret world not quite like any other I’ve come across before. There was some understated romance in the book but it drifted along in the background for most of the story. I’m actually not sure if there’s supposed to be a second book, but I hope so. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!