Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

By Robin Sloan                                Genre: Fiction
Reviewed by Natalie                      4/5 stars

From Natalie's reading list - 5. A book with a number in the title

“It was paper that saved me.”


Glow-in-the-dark cover

This line from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was the hook that kept me reading this book. I can relate to it. Books have been such a crucial part of my life, and books become a crucial part of our hero’s life in this book. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is set in San Francisco, the heart of tech country. The bookstore is a stalwart paper peddler in an e-reader world.

Clay Jannon, an out-of-work graphic designer, takes the only job he can get – as the night shift clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Clerks are forbidden from reading the mysterious coded tomes on the way-back shelves, but Clay’s curiosity gets the better of him. Clay decodes an age-old riddle that leads him on a quest to a secret, underground library in New York City.

Author Robin Sloan deftly mixes modern technology with the technology of the past – printed books. There’s an element of fantasy with Clay’s quest, books in code, hooded figures, and a secret society. It isn’t overtly fantastical – more of a mystery than anything else, and a nod to the rest of us book lovers.

This book caught my eye first as one I could put on my reading list and second as a book about a bookstore. The smell of the books, the rainbow of colored spines, the stories waiting to be consumed – bookstores are magical places. (Oh and by the way, the cover glows in the dark). Purchase Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore for a book that celebrates the magic of paper.

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3 thoughts on “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

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