Friday, 22 July 2011

The Library of Shadows

Title: The Library of Shadows

Author: Mikkel Birkegaard

Number of pages: 430

Started: 12 July 2011

Finished: 22 July 2011

Opening words:

Luca Campelli's wish to die surrounded by his beloved books came true late one night in October.

Of course this was one of those wished that was never formulated either in speech or thought, but people who had seen Luca in his antiquarian bookshop knew it had to be true. The little Italian moved among the stacks of books in Libri di Luca as if he were strolling in his own living room, and without hesitation he could direct his customers to precisely the stack or shelf where the book they were seeking was located. Luca’s love for literature became obvious after only a brief conversation with him, and it made no difference whether it was a question of a worn paperback or one of the rare first editions. This sort of knowledge bore witness to a long life with books, and Luca’s authority among the shelves made it difficult to imagine him outside the comforting atmosphere of muted devotion that suffused the antiquarian bookshop.

Plot summary:

Imagine that some people have the power to affect your thoughts and feelings when you read, or they read a book to you. They can seduce you with amazing stories, conjure up vividly imagined worlds, but also manipulate you into thinking exactly what they want you to.

When Luca Campelli dies a sudden and violent death, his son Jon inherits his second-hand bookshop, Libri di Luca, in Copenhagen. Jon has not seen his father for twenty years since the mysterious death of his mother.

After Luca's death is followed by an arson attempt on the shop, Jon is forced to explore his family's past. Unbeknown to Jon, the bookshop has for years been hiding a remarkable secret. It is the meeting place of a society of booklovers and readers, who have maintained a tradition of immense power passed down from the days of the great library of ancient Alexandria. Now someone is trying to destroy them, and Jon finds himself in a fight for his life and those of his new friends.

What I thought:
I was intrigued by this plot of the book – people having the ability through the power of reading to influence and change people’s thoughts. The book on the whole was a good read, if perhaps a little let down by the ending. I thought it was quite an original idea for a plot and the story carefully unfolded, building suspense and leaving the reader guessing.

Interestingly, I actually read the book aloud to my partner, who also enjoyed it. Make of that what you will...

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