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Sat, April 20

Book review: The Bookseller

The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson

The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson

The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson, is certainly a page turner. No wonder it was an Indie Next pick and is being translated into 11 languages. The narrator is Kitty Miller, a 30-year-old single woman, who co-owns a bookstore and spends much time home alone, content with only her cat. The book is set in Denver during the early 60s, so this makes her somewhere between a bohemian and a spinster — until the day she wakes up in a bedroom she doesn’t recognize, a bigger and swankier bedroom painted sage green, a very different color than the one she had just painted yellow at home.

Thinking she must be having some kind of strange dream, she closes her eyes and waits to actually wake up. Instead she hears a man’s voice say, “Wake up. Katharyn, love, wake up,” and finds a loving hunk of a man needing her help with one of their children who seems to have a temperature. “Who are you? Where am I?” she asks. And that is the question that stays to permeate the novel, even when she does eventually wake up in her yellow bedroom. But she also keeps returning to that other world of the sage green bedroom. As time passes she becomes increasingly confused about which reality she is in, and which really is reality.

As a fiction writer myself, I found this to be disturbing at times – and quite familiar – since when I’m writing I sometimes have brief moments of mix up like that, even though at bottom I always know which is real. Kitty, however, isn’t at all sure. And neither will you be. Intriguing mysteries develop because of things she knows but shouldn’t and things she should know but doesn’t and ... well, that’s what makes the book a page turner and I’m not about to spoil it for you, so pick one up yourself and see if you can unravel some of the mysteries.

Another notable book: Jackaby, by William Ritter

Reviewed by Jon Beringer, Peregrine Book Company Floor Manager

The description on the inside of the dust jacket was only partially correct. Instead of saying, “Dr. Who meets Sherlock....” it should say “Sherlock meets Supernatural meets Neil Gaiman meets Brothers Grimm.” I simply could not put this book down. Jackaby is a detective able to see ghosts and faeries and other otherworldly beings. His unorthodox style of investigation puts him at odds with the local police. Enter Abigail Rook, English runaway and Jackaby’s new sidekick. The story is perfectly told from her perspective, and the surprises along the way are truly a surprise. You will encounter several fairytale creatures, but it’s obvious that William Ritter has only scratched the surface of his marvelously created world. Can’t wait for book two to arrive!


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