Bingo 10 (Listicle)
I have seen Libriomancer suggested in a few places, but I decided to go ahead and actually acquire and read it when I noticed its presence on “Seanan McGuire’s Personal Top Ten Urban Fantasy Books For Adults” on Tor.com. I have not read any of this author’s work, although I do have their Middlegame on my TBR shelf (on the floor near the shelf actually since the book wouldn’t fit). Anyways, this list provided me with the perfect excuse to pick up the book from the local libray. It turns out Libriomancer is also recommended by Patrick Rothfuss, whose books I like although I haven’t really enjoyed some of his other recommended titles.
This novel is the first in a series, and it’s just plain fun if you’re a book nerd and appreciator of fantasy and science-fiction. The gist is this: Isaac is a librarian at a small library on Michigan’s UP. But actually, he’s more than just a librarian. Isaac and people like him have the ability to reach into books and take out objects and use them as they function in their stories. Imagine being able to reach into a copy of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and use Lucy’s potion to heal yourself and some friends after fighting with vampires; Isaac does exactly this. And it’s not just objects; Isaac has a pet spider named Smudge who is not an ordinary spider. Smudge may look like a common tarantula, but he’s actually a fire-spider, meaning he can burst into flames in self-defense (or defense of Isaac). Smudge is from a book, although exactly which title is unspecified. Anyways, Isaac has been exiled from the libriomancer society for losing control of his magic and bad judgement, but is forced to get involved after vampires attack him, and he learns soon after than his mentor Ray has been murdered. A couple of important people are missing, including the inventor of libriomancy, Johannes Gutenberg. Isaac has to solve the murder, figure out why the vampires are going after libriomancers, find the missing important people, and deal with Lena. Lena’s a dryad who can kick some butt, and she also is romantically attracted to Isaac and he’s pretty sure he’s ok with that, except he learns something about her that makes him uneasy about pursuing anything.
To me this sounds like a cross between Indiana Jones, The Librarian, and maybe a little bit Harry Dresden. The basic plot and characters are not all that developed or interesting. It’s the premise of libriomancy that’s so much fun, and Smudge. Smudge never says a word (he’s a spider that doesn’t talk) but he’s got more personality than Isaac and Lena put together. The one human-ish character that is a little bit interesting but doesn’t have barely enough page-time would be Juan Ponce de Leon (yes, the Spanish conquistador) who is himself a former libriomancer, now exiled to Spain. He knows a lot, but can’t tell a lot because of spells put on him, and he also seems be the kind of guy who enjoys messing with people like Isaac. There’s three more titles to this series, and I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading about more libriomancy, Smudge, and Ponce de Leon.