This book was recommended to me as it was compared to a book my I had previously enjoyed; The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry:
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends, but when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.
I will start off by saying that I didn’t see the comparison: they are very different books. The only link I saw was the setting of a bookstore being a large feature of the narrative. That aside we have very different story-lines.
That being said, I really enjoyed this book regardless! The book follows the tale of Clay as he begins working the night-time shift at a mysterious, quiet bookstore. Clay has learned a degree of programming, and so begins to try and modernise the store, through which he uncovers it’s hidden secret – a link to a cult set on translating a book rumoured to contain the key to eternal life.
The cult becomes torn between using traditional or modern methods to find the key to this work, as all involved pursue to solve the 500 year old puzzle.
The book is written in a very comedic way and many one-off lines were genuinely funny. It is all fairly light-hearted – even the villains are comic ultimately, and the story follows a tale which I got the impression had no intention of being taken seriously.
It was interesting trying to unpick what the author was attempting – perhaps a consideration between the traditional and the modern. Paper books vs. e-books. Either way, there was something unique about this book that caught my attention and I finished it fairly quickly as a result.
I wouldn’t recommend this to as many people as I do The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, but that is due to perhaps a more direcitonal story-line that not everyone will appreciate. I’m glad to have read it though and will certainly read more of Robin Sloan should he continue to write other novels.