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.


Leave a comment

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

Amazon Affiliate Link

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.