Author: Django Wexler
Synopsis: Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That–along with everything else–changed the day she met her first fairy. When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within. It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.
Huge thank you to Kathy Dawson Books and Netgalley for this ARC!
Ever since I saw the cover for The Forbidden Library, I knew I had to have it. I love library adventures, and when a book is set in a library or is about uncovering ancient information, or it just has a lot of humor in its approach, I just get giddy on the inside. Django Wexler’s The Forbidden Library is fairly dark at times for a children’s book, but there’s a lot of mystery and intrigue, just as their is courage and crazy.
Alice is a solid protagonist. She’s plucky, quirky, adventurous and lovable. Her narrative is very engaging, and her curiosity often gets the better of her. She’s paired with a fantastic ensemble cast, from Ashes, the talking cat, to sweet, adorable Isaac. The main mystery within the story is that Alice loses her father to a mystery shipwreck and is forced to move in with her Uncle Geryson and his talking cat. To survive a shipwreck is unlikely, but Alice believes that considering the bizarre circumstances of how it happened that he could have potentially survived.
Wexler writes beautiful prose and description. There’s an exquisite amount of detail in how he describes Alice and the world that surrounds her. The prose is really what kept me completely sucked into the story, and I had a hard time putting the book down because I wanted to uncover each and every one of the mysteries that is within the novel. In a lot of cases, this book is a mystery, wrapped in another mystery, wrapped in an enigma. There’s always more questions than answers, and as answers begin to form, more questions appear. It makes for a fun and engaging read a lot of the time, and Wexler definitely went in some directions I didn’t entirely expect him to go.
Not only is this a fantastic middle grade novel, but it’s one that I think a lot of adults would equally enjoy because the layering of narrative is just so strong. There’s so much adventure and exploration, and sometimes that’s what you need in your life (at least, I know I do!). If you love middle grade or libraries, this is a book worth your attention.