A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Who is to say I would not have liked Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan as much or more if I read it last week or maybe next month? What I do know is that I had begun reading it just days before I got a snow day. With an unexpected day off and the magic and beauty of the snow to go along with the magic inside the novel, it was a perfect day for a book, if not the only right day for the only right book.
I see that some libraries put a fantasy label on its spine of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. This is curious for the setting is the present and what happens is unlikely but not beyond what is possible. What is truly magical are the relationships among the characters and their creative solutions to problems. Friendship, care, and wonder generate the power needed to drive Clay Jannon in his quest. He is the rover, accompanied by his warrior and his wizard. The roles are defined by their favorite fantasy trilogy, but they live in contemporary San Francisco.
Granted, the bookstore is unlike any that you are likely to find, as is the library that Clay and his friends visit in New York. The ancient order with which he becomes involved has an unusual methodology, it is true, but its mission is in line with the scholarly pursuits of all peoples of the book. His friends at Google have developed some amazing technologies, too, but I can imagine it all could be true. Robin Sloan has made the possibilities in our real world seem wonderful.
Review by Rick