Review No.79 – Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

Text Publishing, 2012

When he first sets foot in what may be the most unusual bookstore in San Francisco, Clay Jannon is just looking for a job. What he gets is a mystery. Because while Mr Penumbra’s store is full of books, most of them cannot be bought – or indeed, even be read. Customers dart in at any hour of the day or night, on errands both inscrutable and urgent. New books are delivered rarely, with cryptic warnings. At the heart of it all is a secret hidden inside centuries of words and a chain of answers that will turn Clay’s life upside down.

This book, recommended on Erin Morgenstern’s blog, is basically delightful from beginning to end. It looks at the world through a lense that turns it all to wonders. It is of course a book about books, which is a sure way to my heart, has a cast of charmingly eccentric characters, some of the most imaginative imagery I’ve read in a long time, and makes San Francisco sound like a place where magicians would want to live.


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