Not in my experience. Does that mean that every book about books or libraries or bookshops is going to fulfill my expectations? Nope. Thankfully, this one didn’t disappoint.
We all know the magic that can be found between the covers of a book. But now, imagine that said magic was literal, and that you could actually reach into a book and pluck out an object if your imagination was strong enough. That’s the kind of power that our protagonist, Isaac Vainio, has found and given up and found again. He’s a libriomancer; as long as it will fit through the page, Isaac can draw both mundane and magical objects from the books that contain them. What an amazing idea for a magic system!
In Hines’ series, so much of our world has been impacted by the power of books, and yet little of the population is aware of these changes. Werewolves, vampires, and more have been shaped by the collective imagination of readers worldwide. The Porters, a guild of libriomancers and other magic wielders, are tasked with protecting the world from magical interference unleashed by this collective imagination, as well as keeping the mundane population ignorant of magic.
My favorite part of this book besides the book-based magic is Isaac, our main character. At first, Isaac seems like a carbon copy of our average urban fantasy male protagonist: down on his luck, hunted, more powerful than he knows, fan of long coats with lots of pockets, in possession of a strange magical pet, and seemingly controlled by his libido. Isaac is all of these things, but he’s also joyful and transparent and emotional and has somehow maintained an innocence that is incredibly sweet. What makes Isaac so powerful in his imagination and belief, both of which are aided by that aforementioned innocence. His innocence isn’t all-encompassing, however. Isaac is joined on his adventure by Lena Greenwood, who is magical in her own right. And man, does Isaac ever have the hots for her. This causes problems that I’ll leave you to find for yourself.
Lena was a fascinating character, but sadly one I can’t say much about without spoiling some of the side-plotting. What I can say is that she is fierce and loyal with a voluptuous beauty that belies how dangerous she can be. Besides Isaac and Lena, my other favorite character was Smudge, the fire-spider Isaac plucked from a book but was unable to make himself return. Smudge is one of the most adorable pets I’ve come across in urban fantasy, even if he is a spider. His mannerisms and loyalty to Isaac was just so incredibly cute!
This book was a fun, quick read. The only reason it’s not a five-star read for me is the weird love-triangle aspect. Love triangles are a pet peeve of mine, so its inclusion diminished my enjoyment of the book. However, I’ll definitely be continuing with the series, and I heartily recommend it to any urban fantasy fan who loves books in and of themselves.