Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The Book of Doors

The Book of Doors by Gareth Brown
2/13/24; 416 pages
William Morrow

The Book of Doors by Gareth Brown is a debut magic realism novel exploring the power of magic books and evil. It is highly recommended.

Cassie Andrews works at Kellner Books in Manhattan when long-time elderly customer Mr. John Webber passes away in the store. With him is the copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, which he was reading, and a small leather-bound book which says inside the cover: "This is the Book of Doors. Hold it in your hand, and any door is every door." After that is an inscription to Cassie from Mr. Webber: "This book is for you, a gift in thanks for your kindness."

It's a strange little book. Inside are indecipherable marks and illustrations of doors. When Cassie shows it to Izzy, her best friend and roommate, Izzy is leery about it, especially when Cassie is holding it and the door opens up to a scene from her trip to Venice, but then the two experiment with the book visiting some local haunts and deem it safe. Cassie and Izzy soon meet Drummond Fox, the librarian, a Scottish man who has a collection of magical books he protects. There are several copies of various magic books that are highly sought after by collectors and The Book of Doors is the most sought after powerful book. He warns them that malevolent people are seeking the book and will stop at nothing to get it.

The time travel drew me into reading The Book of Doors, but in reality the novel is much more focused on magic and dark forces wanting to use the books for evil. In some ways at the beginning it felt like a YA novel until the descriptions of the actions of very violent, evil people entered the narrative. I honestly hoped the novel would go in a different direction, one of wonderment, then the direction it went, but I gamely stayed with it. Admittedly, I often struggle with magic realism in novels.

This was an entertaining novel for me, like a super hero action movie, rather than a great read. There were a few things in the narrative that were a definite negative. The characters of Cassie and Izzy felt really young to me and I never felt any affinity toward them until later in the novel. Expect lots of magic, superpowers, and evil. Thanks to William Morrow for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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