My Haunted Library

All things spooky. Your source for paranormal and supernatural book and movie reviews, strangeography, Halloween crafts and a little cozy fall baking.


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Review: The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

Susan journeys to the big city to find her father and learns that Old World magic is very real—and very dangerous—In Nix’s enchanting new fantasy.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London—Garth Nix, 2020. Rating 4.5/5

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When she turns eighteen, Susan begins a quest for the father she never knew, leaving her country home and vague, artist mother for bustling London. It is 1983, and Susan only has a few meager clues about her father’s identity. One of these clues leads her into a sticky supernatural situation. Enter Merlin St. Jacques, a left-handed bookseller. Flamboyant, dashing, and currently a ladies’ man—though he is “somewhat…shape-shiftery” and is contemplating changing gender—Merlin is one of the fighting booksellers. Right-handed booksellers, of course, are their cerebral counterparts, excelling at mental feats of power.

Merlin introduces Susan to the extended booksellers’ family organization. Their mission is to maintain a peaceful balance between creatures of magic and the clueless human world. And sell books. Merlin realizes that Susan is being targeted by beings from the Old World when goblins dance them into an other-worldly May Fair. He and his sister Vivien (a right-handed bookseller) also begin to suspect that Susan’s father is a rather important Old World figure, and they intuit a connection with the murder of their mother. With outside help from long-suffering police liaison Inspector Greene, the trio battle Cauldron-born; encounter water-fay, a Fenris and a host of other magical beings; and face betrayal and human corruption.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London is a magical hug. Funny, bright, and brilliant; packed with magic dark and light. I couldn’t put it down. Nix’s unique London is the world we fantasy-lovers wish we lived in—hazardous though it may be—where creatures of myth and legend live (mostly) seamlessly alongside our ‘real’ existence. Though there is gunplay and assassination-by-hatpin and plenty of genuine gruesomeness (Merlin is left-handed, after all), Nix takes time to explore themes of identity and heritage as Susan comes to terms with her unique family background, and Merlin learns more about himself. A fantastical, cozy, satisfying gem.


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Review: Where the Sun Goes to Die

Antisocial monster hunter Jonathan Crowley and his companion, the albino former undertaker Mr. Slate, canvass the Old West, giving what for to werewolves and schooling shapeshifters in Moore’s darkly enjoyable collection of tales.

Where the Sun Goes to Die—James A. Moore, 2019. Rating: 4/5

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Where the Sun Goes to Die follows events in that occur in Boomtown, (see my review here), where Crowley and Slate’s efforts to fend off reanimated corpses, a malevolent wizard, and a group of possessed Native Americans leaves the town of Carson Point, Colorado a bit worse for wear. As in, well, decimated. I.e., bloodbath. Where the Sun Goes to Die stands successfully on its own gruesome feet, so you don’t need to read Boomtown first, but it does give a little more background on Slate and Crowley’s odd relationship.

Mr. Lucas Slate, once a genteel mortician, is becoming…something else. Judging by others’ terrified reactions to his gaunt and growing frame, whatever he’s changing into is the antithesis of his normally soft-spoken self. Slate is travelling with Crowley to discover the nature of his transformation. Crowley is keeping a weather eye on Slate, coolly ready to dispatch his companion if—when—Slate becomes a monster.

On their journey, they encounter a demon train and a parasitic preacher. They get caught in a conflict between soldiers, Apaches, and a Skinwalker who looks remarkably like Mr. Slate. In a story co-authored by Charles R. Rutledge, Crowley, Slate, and a fellow hunter rescue a stagecoach from werewolves.

Where the Sun Goes to Die is flat-out fun. That is, if your idea of fun involves supernatural throwdowns, gunfights, and general carnage. The grimly charismatic Crowley, as always, carries the tales. Crowley is just…cool. He has magical powers and does not appear to age. He is compelled to aid (fellow?) humans if asked for help. He is irascible. Unimposing. He revels a little too much in a fight. And he doesn’t suffer fools—or really anyone—gladly. But every now and then, there’s just the slightest whisper that there may be, or was, an iota of heart under that tough, techy hide. Mr. Slate complements Crowley nicely. The two remind me vaguely of Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd from Diamonds Are Forever with their formal addresses and occasional dry banter. But Mr. Crowley and Mr. Slate are good guys. Mostly. Fans of westerns and the paranormal will appreciate this genre-bending treat.