The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

Garth Nix

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London
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The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

Garth Nix

Eighteen-year-old art student Susan Arkshaw arrives in London in search of her father. But before she can question crime boss Frank Thringley he’s turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin.

Merlin is one of the youngest members of a secret society of booksellers with magical powers who police the mythic Old World wherever it impinges on the New World - in addition to running several bookshops, of course! Merlin also has a quest of his own: to find the Old World entity who arranged the murder of his mother.

Their investigations attract attention from enemies of the Old and New Worlds. Soon they become involved in an even more urgent task to recover the grail that is the source of the left-handed booksellers' power, before it is used to destroy the booksellers and rouse the hordes of the mythic past.

As the search for the grail becomes strangely intertwined with both their quests, they start to wonder… Is Susan’s long-lost father a bookseller, or something altogether more mysterious?  


All southpaws can attest to our brilliance: take Albert Einstein or Marie Curie – both brilliant lefties. See also, Leonardo da Vinci. I might be biased here, but combine that left-handed brilliance with bookselling and all manner of awesome things can happen. Just take this new book from Garth Nix!

In this rollicking novel, Susan Arkshaw – a quite ordinary art student living in London, seeking her biological father – is swept up in an adventure to prevent the Old World beasties from meddling in the current plane. Allied with Merlin (later Vivien), and a member of a society of left-handed booksellers with varying magical abilities to combat said beasts and other supernatural hijinks, Susan’s own background and connections to the Old World raise many questions.

This book is a real page-turner; chaos, action and intrigue all combine in this fun read. Set in the 1980s, there are some great indicators that we find ourselves in an era without technologies we rely on today. And as with all of Nix’s books, the characters are relatable and well-rounded. Unlike many organisations in the world, the Society is an inclusive one, so that’s good news for righties and those who are ambidextrous. After reading this book, I came away wishing I had similar magical abilities. What a blast that would be! And while it is ostensibly aimed at young adults, fans of Garth Nix’s work from way back (yes, you!), will find this enjoyable. For ages 12+.

Julia Jackson is the assistant shop manager at Readings Carlton.

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