Apparently Wexlers previous work was a
series of sprawling fantasy doorstops called The Shadow Campaigns
which I am not familiar with. This is a quite different beast, a fantasy novel with a
historical setting for older children and younger young adults, and is consequently much
shorter and more tightly written. For both of which we can be thankful!
His clever trick to establish the period of the setting worked for me,
having his characters discussing newspaper articles about earthquakes in New Zealand and
Managua, and a war in Spain, although I question whether a younger audience would get it.
But then our young heroine discovers the hidden magic in her world and the fun starts.
I have to say that Wexlers take on libriomancy works really well,
better than Ive come across before in many ways. His heroine, Alice, is
well-realised, though I have my doubts about some of the supporting cast, whose motives
are a bit obscure. I do think the choice of name was unwise - we already have our Alice;
and we must blame the publisher for the blurb, which is so over-blown that its truly
However, overall not a bad read, enjoyable by both children and adults;
and with some truly memorable images, like the swarm and the evil wasp fairy! Oh, and
there is a talking cat with plenty of cattitude
and its all set up for a