Title: Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore
Author: Robin Sloan
On the Shelves: Fiction> Contemporary/Mystery
“The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave” (Goodreads 2014)
I’d seen this around the booktube community last summer and I finally got my mitts on a copy of it. You know when we, as readers, always discuss the worlds we wish were real? Well, I wish there were bookstores like this all over the place! Just Sloan’s writing when describing the intimate and intricate layout of the bookstore, with the beautiful lighting and the ladders and…my god, Sloan, tag your p0rn.
I already kind of know a bookstore similar to the one created for Mr Penumbra’s bookstore, but sadly, it is not 24 hours (oh what I wouldn’t give!).
Mr Penumbra’s follows a young man named Clay, who stumbles upon a job as an assistant in a 24 hour bookstore by chance, one day, and he instantly realises that his spidey senses are tingling, there is something different about this bookshop. “Strange things are afoot at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore.”. A mixture of strange and bizarre characters enter the bookshop and what comes of Clay’s employment at the bookshop is completely unexpected.
I need to talk about Sloan’s writing though. From the very first chapter, I was sucked into this world. Sloan’s writing is just, absolutely beautiful. He solidly creates this intricate and detailed world whilst at the same time, holding an air of mystery surrounding the bookshop and what is really going on. I found that at around the halfway point, the pace of the story has slowed down a little bit, but the world itself is what kept me interested in what was going to happen. I did lose a little interest around the halfway point, which is why this book is not “5 stars”, but I still really enjoyed it. The last paragraph in the book just made me want to hug it, it is one of the most lovely endings I have read so far.
At around 51%, according to my goodreads updates, I declared this book to be “the Ready Player One for book lovers”. Which is essentially what it is. I never expected this book go where it did, and I really believe that is such a rarity to happen these days, it was fantastic to get so engrossed in what was going on!
I recommend this to any book lover.