Wednesday 18 October 2023

The Lost Library

The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead & Wendy Mass. 2023 Text Publishing. Paperback RRP $16.99.  e-Book $9.99. ISBN 9781922790477

 Reviewed by Debra Williams

A collaborative work from two U.S. authors, The Lost Library tells the tale of a little free library which appears mysteriously overnight in the town of Martinville, USA. The little free library is guarded by a large orange cat, Mortimer (although people don’t know his real name and call him by a couple of others). When 11-year-old Evan McClelland chooses two books from the little library, he is unaware that his life, and that of the town, will soon change.

One book is titled How to Write a Mystery Novel. Evan becomes engrossed in trying to solve his own mystery, when he discovers an old library card inside the book with his dad’s name on it. The town library burned down 20 years earlier in mysterious circumstances and the case was never solved. It seems to be something the adults don’t want to talk about. Along with his friend Rafe, the two boys try and put the puzzle pieces together. What will they discover? Is Evan’s dad hiding a long-kept secret?

This story is narrated in first person by an apparent ghost librarian, Al. POV shifts to Mortimer and Evan’s stories which are interspersed throughout and keep the reader’s interest with various story twists and turns. There are delightful interludes involving mice, which add a particular charm to the story.

This is a middle-grade novel, suitable for the 8-12-year age readership.

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