Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan
Gripping! Beautifully crafted! Modern fanciful plot! Rich and imaginative!
Sloan had me gripped from the first paragraph of Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store with his descriptive use of language. Every sentence, every paragraph is a delight to read. The book is a tour de force. The characters are rich. The plot centres on the human ability to being open to change, in this case embracing technology in the cyberspace age and the problems of being inflexible.
The book is written in the first person by Clay Jannon who works for Mr Penumbra in his book shop. It is a shop with a difference and Clay has been given strict instructions…three. Clay works between 10pm and 6am (because the shop never closes); he mustn’t browse between the covers of the books; and he must keep meticulous records of the demeanour of the customers, the date, time and their appearance. To say more about what the story is about would give the game away but … there is a secret underground library in New York City where books are chained to desks and the mysterious First Reader Corvina is central control. It will be because of this library there will be a cyberspace battle to solve an age old mystery.
The story concludes with a paragraph as delightful as the first and set to linger in the reader’s memory. When I closed the book I had the most wonderful feeling that this is a book I would like to own for myself and to be able to read again, and again, and again.