“Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues — a bee, a key, and a sword — that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians — it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.
Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.”
I read this book before reading The Night Circus which is Erin’s previous published novel (also on my TBR) as the premise sounded like something I would love, and I did love it. It’s filled with mystery, magical realism, fantasy and truly transported me and I felt like I was right there with these characters experiencing what they were experiencing. The world and places were so beautifully described that, even though the story was pretty confusing at times, it still felt easy to follow, like watching a movie and just going with it.
The story features chapters from other books within this book which some people don’t like at all, I personally love things like that, that makes a book different and more interesting. I was constantly trying to figure out all of the connections between the characters from the main story and from the books within the story which honestly I’m sure I would continue to find new connections every time I re-read this book.
Some parts also gave me a lot of The Neverending Story vibes, which is one of my favourite books and movies of all time. Would highly recommend to fans of portal fantasy, magical realism and books that don’t always make any sense at all, I like when books don’t spell everything out for me and keep me wondering about it long after having read it.
My rating: 5/5 stars