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review The Forbidden Library

Late one night Alice Creighton hears her father having an argument with a fairy – a snarling bald beast with warts and needle like teethThe next day her father disappears never. 5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum Interview with the author m a big fan of Django Wexler s work His adult epic fantasy The Thousand Names blew me away last year putting him on my favorite author radar so I ve been keeping an eye out for from him ever since This past year I ve also read the first book of his new novella series John Golden gone back to read one of his older published novels from a small press and of course this one The Forbidden Library his upcoming middle grade titleAnyway I think it s official Wexler excels at pretty much any genre he tries his hand at I was initially curious and maybe a little skeptical as to how he would handle a children s novel but this book was truly excellent The author shows his talent and versatility in The Forbidden Library creating original worlds filled with all kinds of interesting creatures bringing them to life with such rich and detailed descriptions I have no doubt adult readers will be enchanted by the wonderful creativity and imagination found in here as wellThe story itself is fantastic and as an avid bibliophile it s hard for me to resist anything to do with libraries or reading about the wonderful books that take us to faraway places As you ll see the metaphor of books as portals to new worlds is actually uite literal in this case The plot follows main protagonist Alice a young girl who discovers she has a very special power Called Readers people like Alice possess the ability to enter the worlds of certain books which might seem great at first until you realize these books serve as prisons to nasty creatures and the only way out again is if the Reader can defeat themHowever if a Reader is successful in defeating and binding a creature he or she will escape and also have access to its abilities I thought this was a very sophisticated and inventive idea to explain how people like Alice derive their magical powers Their spells are achieved by calling upon the creatures they control to channel it for them and presumably a Reader can grow powerful by defeating creatures in prison books and taking control of their abilities The plot also had enough mystery to keep me constantly guessing I could never be sure what everybody s motives were I felt for Alice and her predicament of being suddenly thrust into a strange environment where she couldn t trust anyone though she was far from helpless and I m sure she had no need for anyone s sympathy Courageous and headstrong Alice is a good role model for young readers being a take charge kind of girl who doesn t take obstacles or setbacks lying downIn some ways The Forbidden Library was complex than I would have expected from a middle grade novel While it had its fair share of levity Ashes the talking cat will be a joy to many for example and not just to cat lovers it also had its moments of darkness Sometimes it s both light and dark at once as evidenced by the Swarmers Alice s horde of bizarre bird like creatures that have the physical appearance and consistency of a rubber ball with legs I confess reading this made me want an army of Swarmers of my own in spite of the fact they re essentially a black mass of razor sharp pecking beaks and I d probably lose an eye Like I said the magical creatures found in this book and the sheer imagination behind them are a pure delightIt s moments like that which make me feel this is a book both kids and adults can enjoy It certainly has that wide appeal I ve been trying to read a lot children s booksmiddle grade books lately taking note of my favorite titles to share with my daughter one day who s still a bit too young now but it s never too early to start her library Without a doubt The Forbidden Library will be one of them

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The Forbidden Library

To return And Alice is sent to live with Master Geryon an uncle she never even knew existedGeryon has a dark mysterious library which is strictly off limits to Alice But after m. So SO good Django Wexler is one of those writers who like Gaiman Rowling Snicket and Lewis can write a perfectly presented children s book that will also appeal to adults Alice the primary character is clever brave and determined to find her father She s a reader and in this world that is a Reader because that s where the magic in this book is found There is some delightful wonder in this book the cats and the swarmers were my favorites but it s also one of those books that is much than just a pleasant presentation the themes here are complex and nuanced and the dangers that Alice faces are extremely real The characters that surround Alice are nuanced there are no simple people or easy allies instead Alice has to realize that everyone around her has a hidden agenda sometimes than one that may or may not be in her best interest There is a very interesting ongoing theme of Alice encountering very cute things that turn out to be extremely dangerous And Alice finds herself being faced with hard morally complicated decisions about what she is willing to do in order to survive There s also a strong emphasis on Alice getting herself out of danger using only her own abilities and her own wits rather than waiting for someone to save her or for the problem to conveniently resolve itselfI also can t state enough how beautiful the illustrations are Wexler has a wonderful way with description and the illustrations are delightful little Easter eggs tucked in among the textI wish that this book had been written when I was little but I loved it intensely now and I can t wait to give it to my nephews to enjoy I m also eagerly waiting for the next Alice book because there are so many mysteries still unsolved

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Eeting a talking cat who is willing to sneak her in Alice opens a book and suddenly finds herself inside it – and the only way out is by conuering the dangerous creatures withi. I wanted to read this book the moment I found out about it It sounded like the perfect blend of fantasy magic and adventure and in a magical library no less with talking catsSo I jumped into it excitedly once I got my hands on a copy I expected to like it I wanted to like itAnd yet It took me than half the book to even get into it at all Until then it was a struggle It had all the right ingredients but it lacked something Spirit Excitement I don t even know Everything was there that should have worked but it just failed to grab me plodding on slowlyI couldn t put my finger on it for the longest time until I worked out at least one of my big problems with the book and not just this book there are middle grade books that work on multiple levels with subplots and secondary characters with their own lives with people who have histories people who have than one interest and then there are middle grade books which are simpler Much much simpler This is one of those or at least it was for me It s a book that has exactly one plodding slow plot It s not a tree with branches going off branches of secondary plot points or action outside the main narrative thread It s a post A straight line It s completely linear It s all about Alice going from point A to point B with some stops along the way but never ever branching off doing anything that isn t directly plot relevant There s not a single character she meets that is anything but a plot relevant prop there to either hinder her or help her or sometimes both at once I didn t really get the impression of any of those characters as real people with lives outside of Alice s plot whenever they weren t needed they were just put aside on a shelf waiting for the next time they d need to turn upThat s not to say that a completely linear children s adventure is a bad thing No it s not It s rarely as satisfying as a multi level adventure populated with real people with histories and own lives outside of their interactions with the protagonist but most adventures for young children are linear like this Except that I did get the feeling this was aimed mostly at younger teens not so much 8 year oldsI d be a lot forgiving if the pace had picked up faster though As I said above it took me than halfway into the book before it felt like the introductory parts were behind us and the real adventures started And the latter half of the book was well if not entirely satisfying then certainly faster paced and exciting even if it felt like a handful of separate little adventures strung together than a coherent narrativeI also had some problems with the magic in the book It s not explained very thoroughly somehow some people just have the ability to Read ie to read specific books that have magical creatures in them and then they can kill or bind those creatures and afterwards they ll have the magical powers of those creatures at their disposal and can use the creatures as slaves and I felt uite uncomfortable with the underlying evil of this whole system Yes it s a point in the book Readers sorcerers are cruel twisted evil people who think nothing of killing and hurting others because it s what their entire magical power relies on but considering how easily Alice takes to that and that s another thing it came to her entirely too easily and how she takes little convincing to use the powers she s obtained even while arguing it s not right and she d rather make the creatures submit than kill them outright well Alice was a reasonably okay protagonist otherwise resourceful and courageous but I do admit the entire system just doesn t sit well with meActual rating is like 25 maybe 225 the first half of the book would barely be a 2 the second half perhaps almost a three but I m trying to rate this considering how someone in the actual target group might like it I think an eight year old me would have liked it a little than current me although the eight year old me was also into considerably complex adventures so three stars it is ARC of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review Thanks


10 thoughts on “The Forbidden Library

  1. says:

    Fair warning I wrote the book so my review is probably a little biased But it looked lonely with no reviews at all

  2. says:

    My uick reviewDjango Wexler is a friend I checked out The Forbidden Library as an audio book from my very unforbidden local library Midway through reading this Django suggested we get together for coffee I told him that all depende

  3. says:

    5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum Interview with the author 'm a big fan of Django Wexler's work His adult epic fantasy The Thousand

  4. says:

    Another of those young adult books which is totally readable by not so young adults like me The Forbidden Library is full

  5. says:

    Thrown into a world that could only live in dreams or nightmares Alice is thrown into a world where Readers can travel into the world of books meet fight and capture creatures to harness these magical creatures abilities and find magical wor

  6. says:

    So SO good Django Wexler is one of those writers who like Gaiman Rowling Snicket and Lewis can write a perfectly presented children's book that

  7. says:

    I wanted to read this book the moment I found out about it It sounded like the perfect blend of fantasy magic and adventure and in a magical l

  8. says:

    I read Wexler's previous book The Thousand Names and liked it well enough that I picked this up even though I saw that it was aimed at a younger audience I didn't expect to like it uite as much due to that factI needn't have worried I loved this book It may seem like an exaggeration but with 'The Forbidden Library' Wexle

  9. says:

    I really really loved this book Here we have a young smart capable and brave young lady thrown into a completely new world where magic is real a

  10. says:

    A delightful little book perhaps a bit heavy on the dark atmosphere given that its target audience are mostly children bu