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Publisher's Summary

A girl's quest to find her father leads her to an extended family of magical fighting booksellers who police the mythical Old World of England when it intrudes on the modern world. From the best-selling master of teen fantasy, Garth Nix.

In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn't get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin.

Merlin is a young left-handed bookseller (one of the fighting ones), who with the right-handed booksellers (the intellectual ones) are an extended family of magical beings who police the mythic and legendary Old World when it intrudes on the modern world, in addition to running several bookshops.

Susan's search for her father begins with her mother's possibly misremembered or misspelt surnames, a reading room ticket, and a silver cigarette case engraved with something that might be a coat of arms.

Merlin has a quest of his own, to find the Old World entity who used ordinary criminals to kill his mother. As he and his sister, the right-handed bookseller Vivien, tread in the path of a botched or covered-up police investigation from years past, they find this quest strangely overlaps with Susan's. Who or what was her father? Susan, Merlin, and Vivien must find out, as the Old World erupts dangerously into the New.

©2020 Garth Nix (P)2020 Listening Library

What listeners say about The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

The younger end of YA

I enjoy YA stories, provided they're dynamic, engaging and the characters are not dumbed down for a specific audience. Take the initial Abhorsen trilogy as an example. _Excellent_ story with real life issues a child, tween, teen and young adult has to deal with through the course of the adventure. The stories never felt hobbled or the characters thoughts and feelings restricted. It's very engaging throughout and relatable to all readers, no matter their age.

Unfortunately The Left-Handed Booksellers of London falls short of that kind of storytelling. It has many interesting and fascinating premises, but its main characters are neutered. And dumbed down. (Bummer.) It started out strong, then quickly lost color and vividness, till I felt like I was listening to an after school special. Which is a pity. I would have loved another adventure along the lines of Sabriel.

The story could have been made more dynamic if it had an excellent narrator to spice things up, but unfortunately Marisa Calin's narration is fair at best. Her male voices are not believable and her voices for the two main female characters sounded the same. But! Many of her supporting characters are crisp, distinct and enjoyable to listen to, making me wish her performance had been more consistent throughout.

15 people found this helpful

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absolutely delightful

This was delightful and zipped along at a breakneck pace from beginning to end, which is how I ended up listening to an audiobook in just 3 days.

From the first, I adored everything about this novel. The entire concept of the Left-Handed Booksellers, both selling books and keeping the Old World and its entities (benign and malevolent) in check. Merlin, in particular, a charming gender-fluid Left-Handed Bookseller and rogue who gives off definite Doctor Who vibes. The Tenth Doctor, maybe, or Captain Jack. His and Susan's mutual simmering attraction gets hints and nods and stolen moments here and there - my absolute favorite sort of love story.

I hated to stop listening. I'm so glad I decided to stick with the audiobook, even though I wasn't keen on the narrator at first. She grew on me. This is one I'll definitely be listening to again, and perhaps I'll even go back and finish/reread the Sabriel books.

8 people found this helpful

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Not for me

To say this was a disappointing read is an understatement 😑
According to the blurb this should have been everything I search for in a book. I thought I'll have the best of times, I couldn't have been more wrong. 🤦🏻‍♀️
It's kind of my fault, I should've DNFed it, but I pushed through till 20% where I lost all interest and started harboring an actual grudge towards this book. I hated it with such an intensity that should've been reserved for more serious real life related matters. It was giving me a slump and I was procrastinating and avoiding it every single day this past month.
The story was weird, not good weird, but boring weird. I didn't connect with the characters, all of them, the writing style was not to my liking and I'm so sorry for my cruel words but this literally stucked the light out of my days.

6 people found this helpful

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Very clever title

Take the concept of a lost princess searching for her father and give it a twist: make her of post-secondary age. Add a fey police force and a character like Ghibli's Wizard Howl. The characters blame children's fantasy writers like Lewis, Tolkien, Nesbit etc for making life more difficult for them. I blame Percy Jackson, Nick Gautier, and Artemis Fowl (and Holly) for giving this story a familiar feel. If the aforementioned names are unfamiliar to you, this book will seem like a clever enjoyable read instead of just being enjoyable.

4 people found this helpful

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Another quality story by Garth Nix

I love just about everything Garth Nix has written so I am perhaps a little bias, but as far as stories regarding the Old Kingdom— this is another hit!

Well worth the time, and something I will years from now inevitably read again. Just like with the Abhorsen Trilogy. This book has a different take on the Old Kingdom and I really like the way it was explored. My only complaint is that this is the only one so far. It really left me wanting another book in the series. Not because it felt incomplete but because — time flies when you’re having fun.

That being said — at the very beginning of the book it did feel a little slow. Give that environment time to unfold in your mind a little and things get moving fairly quickly. It’s important to understand while this is the Old Kingdom universe, the Wall, and entry into the Old Kingdom is very different in this book. So let the story fill you in before making too many assumptions. It really is a good book.

3 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Nothing I read has been able to retain my interest lately until this one.

3 people found this helpful

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A clever new take on London

I quite liked this book. It was a clever new take on urban fantasy/alternate history of England. Definitely influenced by Suzanne Cooper and maybe a little bit of The Librarian. It was well written with compelling scenery and descriptions. I hope that this author will do a sequel.

2 people found this helpful

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An odd blend of various fairy-tales and RPOne

An odd blend of varied fairy-tales, Thor, Harry Potter and Ready Player One. Overall, Bizarre.

2 people found this helpful

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Not my favorite Garth Nix

I have read several of Garth Nix books. This was not my favorite. It was hard for me to get invested in the story line and the characters (for me) felt two dimensional.

1 person found this helpful

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A brilliant gem!

The world building, and characters, along with the storyline and narration made this delightful. Mixing old world magic, and characters, with a well paced story, it was a real find. Will definitely enjoy again.

1 person found this helpful