The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix @garthnix @harperteen @SnyderBridge4

Posted March 20, 2023 by Robin in Book Review / 9 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix @garthnix @harperteen @SnyderBridge4The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix
Series: Left-Handed Booksellers of London #2
Published by HarperTeen on March 21, 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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When Merlin vanishes, Susan will battle animated statues of heraldic beasts and use magical maps to rescue him on a hunt that leads to a serial killer who must be stopped before she kills again.

There is often trouble of a mythical sort in Bath. The booksellers who police the Old World keep a careful watch there, particularly on the entity who inhabits the ancient hot spring. Yet this time it is not from Sulis Minerva that trouble starts. It comes from the discovery of a sorcerous map, leading left-handed bookseller Merlin into great danger. A desperate rescue is attempted by his sister the right-handed bookseller Vivien and their friend, art student Susan Arkshaw, who is still struggling to deal with her own recently discovered magical heritage.

The map takes the trio to a place separated from this world, maintained by deadly sorcery performed by an ancient sovereign and guarded by monstrous living statues of Portland Stone. But this is only the beginning, as the booksellers investigate centuries of disappearances and deaths and try to unravel the secrets of the murderous Lady of Stone, a serial killer of awesome powers.

The Sinister Booksellers of Bath is the second book in the Left-Handed Booksellers series and picks up a few months after the events of the first book.  Vivien, Merlin and Susan are again thrust together against some magical world beings fixated on Susan.  The team will have to figure out why she is at the center of another gods machinations and how to save her.  Set in an alternate 1980s London, the reader will be introduced to new booksellers, new gods and new understandings on just what it means to be the child of a god.

Susan is trying to keep her human life as much as possible.  She has limited the amount of time she is spending with Merlin or anything else in the magical community.  That all changes when Merlin accidentally, really sometimes you shouldn’t touch magical things when they come flying at you, ends up inside a dimensional pocket inside a map.  Vivien has enlisted Susan to assist in going into the pocket dimension to get him out.  Should be easy enough, but getting him out of the dimension is just the beginning.  The Stone Lady picks up the scent of Susan and she wants her for a ritual and now there are lines drawn in the magical community.  Who will help Susan?  Who will help the Stone Lad? And who will remain neutral?  Susan is going to need some big magical help to stay alive for this one, maybe even her dad.

The Left Handed Bookseller world is pretty interesting.  I enjoyed the 1983 aspect of it in a slightly altered London.  It is easy to picture the time and place, because it is so familiar and then layer the magic on top of it just a smidge offset from normal life.  Vivien and Susan are likeable characters each strong in their own way and learning how to be adults at the age right around 20, where who you are and what you are going to do with your life is solidifying.  Merlin is a bit fun showing up in all manor of dress.  I’m not a huge fan of the crossdressing aspect of him, but that could have just been the way it was presented.  Still he is a character with a costume for just about any occasion.

The story was interesting and I enjoyed meeting some of the entities with their devoted followers and the pocket dimensions where they live.  The entire concept was fascinating to me.  Some of the story pacing in the middle was a bit lagging, especially after the excitement started early on.  Once back on track and headed into the ending though, it picked back up and went strong until the end keeping me completely engaged.  The trio works together so well and I enjoyed Susan’s journey the most as she comes into her own magic and capabilities accepting them a little bit more in the progression of the story.

I still enjoyed the Left Handed Booksellers of London a little more but the Sinister Booksellers of Bath is a solid second book in a series and another win in the Garth Brooks column.


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Posted March 20, 2023 by Robin in Book Review / 9 Comments

9 responses to “The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix