I’ve been so excited to read this book since the day I first heard about it and I’ve been waiting for its release since then. Multiple rejections for the ARC didn’t deter me and I think I’m glad to have read it on my own time without any deadlines looming. And it was such a fun adventurous read.
I have to say, I’m amazed at how ingenious this world is and how fascinating is the author’s imagination. A Library located in Hell which contains unwritten books (which are incomplete) is wonderful in itself, but this world has so much more. I loved how it’s inclusive of different religions’ concept of Heaven and Hell, and the trip to Valhalla was a lot of fun. I was delighted to see a mention of Indralok and hope we get to explore all these other dimensions in the future books. We also encounter a lot of mythical creatures which is fun but the best part is that they don’t conform to their typical roles we are aware of, and subversion of all the usual tropes is the most amazing part of this book.
This book was fast paced right from the get go, and I was delighted to be in on this roller coaster adventure. There is a lot of wit and sarcasm and banter in the dialogue, which made the story seem lighter despite the high stakes. There are also quests and puzzles and mazes and action sequences, making us all feel like a part of the adventure and I had such a gala time following along with the characters. And of course, I particularly loved the discussion about stories and characters, and how much authors are attached to their books. I think this book is a love letter to authors and stories and definitely why I was so attracted to it in the first place, and I am so happy that reading it made me feel all the more affection for books and book lovers.
After the wonderful world building, it’s the characters who steal the show. Claire is the Hell’s Librarian who is very prim and proper, a strict rule follower, who treats books and characters who escape from them like things without feelings. While this might make us feel a bit put off, getting to know her backstory and the way she develops through the story is awesome to read.
Leto is a demon courier who seems more like a mortal teenager, a little scared soul who has his own tragic past but is very innocent and sweet and curious. The way these two come to care for each other is beautiful and there are some amazing heart wrenching scenes featuring them.
Brevity is a muse who is also Claire’s assistant, a tiny little spitfire, always ready to help Claire in her tasks. She can have bouts of anxiety, but ultimately she draws inspiration from those around her and is brave and a true defender of the Library. She is also very compassionate, cares a lot for the books and characters and will do anything to keep them safe.
Hero on the other hand is a character who escapes from his book and is snarky, vain and pretty selfish initially. He is also the one through whom we (and the other characters) learn about the unwritten books and their feelings and how the characters within them are just not abstract words. I absolutely loved how he is written in a way that subverts the standard “perfect hero” trope and every scene with him is a lot of fun.
We also have Ramiel who is a fallen angel who is feeling lost and just wants to find a home to which he can finally belong, and his character development is probably the best in the book which I don’t wanna spoil by giving away any other details.
To conclude, I have to mention that while my above review might seem like an incoherent mess, it’s probably because I’m not feeling well and has nothing to do with the book. This was a delightful adventure novel which combines a lot of myths and legends, with some amazing characters whom we slowly come to love. If you love the “Books about books and book lovers” subgenre, or have previously enjoyed books like Sorcery of Thorns or The Invisible Library series, then this book is perfect for you and I promise you will have a lot of fun.