The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler is a middle-grade story about a girl named Alice who stumbles into a world where reading books literally takes her to new worlds. Unfortunately, those worlds seem to frequently be filled with deadly beasts and the real world with ancient and heartless Readers doesn’t seem all that much better. The Forbidden Library pulled me in the second I saw the first illustration and I can’t wait for the sequel! The ARC I read didn’t actually have all the illustrations either, so I’m planning on buying the finished copy just so that I can go through and see all the ones that I missed; I’m that in love with these illustrations ;-).
Note: I received The Forbidden Library from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on April 15th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 373 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairy
When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.
It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.
- I mentioned the amazing illustrations right? The first one is actually of this creepy poison-sprite thing and I had to keep reading for a while after seeing that one before I could fall asleep! The creativity and inhuman-ness portrayed in these drawings is really phenomenal and I’m so pumped to see the rest in the final copy.
- It’s really fortunate that there are illustrations in The Forbidden Library because the creatures that Wexler has come up with are way beyond the typical fantasy critters. The descriptions of these creatures evokes all sorts of great imagery as I tried to keep in mind that they weren’t the fantasy creatures I was used to, but I think the illustrations will really help with this, so get excited!
- The magic system in The Forbidden Library involves encountering and defeating creatures in magic books in order to gain access to their power. I really liked the “gotta catch ’em all” feeling this brought, since the more creature powers you collect, the better powers you have :D. *gets out Nintendo games* >.>
- Alice is a bookish MC, which is kind of a given since The Forbidden Library is about book magic, but she felt very fresh to me. She reminds me a bit of a young Hermione, which was fun, but she also has a cold streak to her that will be interesting to see developed. The things that she has gone through as a young girl have definitely started to have an effect on her sense of morality, which is intriguing to see in a young character.
- While the plot of The Forbidden Library is fairly simplistic, there are a number of hints revealing that deeper things are going on and I have a lot of hope for the series as a whole. There are some ancient forces at work in The Forbidden Library and it looks like they are going to be far more interested in Alice than she probably would like.
- The magic system of The Forbidden Library is cool, but kind of immoral. In order to get a creature’s power, Alice has to literally kill it or force it to submit. She then can summon it at will and it has to follow her commands. There is a lot of talk among the intelligent bound creatures of just how similar this is to slavery of intelligent things and I just didn’t know how to feel in the end. I want to be excited about Alice gaining power and cool magic, but if it comes at the expense of her having to seek out and kill intelligent beings? That made me a bit uncomfortable and I hope that Alice realizes this isn’t a good way to go later in the series.
- There aren’t many secondary characters that Alice really bonds closely with in The Forbidden Library. For one reason or another, things just don’t turn into solid friendships, which is one of those things I’ve come to expect from a middle-grade book ya know? In the end, I just felt lonely along with Alice and wished that she had at least one person she could actually rely on.
- The Forbidden Library only barely brushes the surface of this magic system and I found myself a bit confused and wanting more information. There are prison books and portal books and perhaps other types of books? We briefly get to see how magic books are made, but it’s still a bit fuzzy. I kind of wished that Alice had had more time to learn even if it meant less time battling book monsters.
The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler is a great fantasy middle-grade adventure and an exciting start to a new series. The magic system involving books is probably the biggest draw for most of us book lovers, but there is just so much to love! Wexler’s experience with the adult fantasy genre really shows with his creativity and unique characters, and I can’t wait to see where he takes this series.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.