Monday 12 June 2023

The Sinister Booksellers of Bath

The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9781761180002

Reviewed by Kellie Nissen

In 1977, in the English city of Bath, a young man finds himself alone near the Abbey on a dark night, being pursued by a grey stone lady. After a confrontation with another entity, this one in a gold mask, the young man is translocated into a map, along with the woman. A quarter section of the map is torn away during the translocation and eventually finds its way into the collection of a local book collector.

Six years later, the book collector has passed away and the bookshop is now run by the extended St Jacques family. However, it is more than just a bookstore for the booksellers, comprised of ‘left-handed booksellers’ – fighters and field agents in the magical arts – and right-handed booksellers who possess more mundane, yet still magical, arcane arts. Together, they police and protect the Old World.

And, so begins this tale, a mix of fantasy and thriller that tracks Merlin, Vivian and Susan as they fight to unravel the mystery of the map, the ancient cycle of murders and ultimately to keep Susan safe from being the next victim, thus increasing the power of Gwyre – the stone lady.

The Sinister Booksellers of Bath is the sequel to The Left-Handed Booksellers of London and, while readers may benefit from reading the latter one first, I had no trouble engaging with its sequel as a standalone.  

Author, Garth Nix, has sold over six million copies of his books, worldwide which range from fantasy and science fiction to regency romance and short fiction. The Sinister Booksellers of Bath will captivate long-standing Garth Nix fans and find a new audience of adolescents aged from 14 years and above – some of whom ‘have never liked the fantasy genre’.

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