Listen free for 30 days

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

A girl's quest to find her father leads her to an extended family of magical fighting booksellers who police the mythical Old World of England when it intrudes on the modern world. From the best-selling master of fantasy Garth Nix.

In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn't get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin.

Merlin is a young left-handed bookseller (one of the fighting ones), who with the right-handed booksellers (the intellectual ones) are an extended family of magical beings who police the mythic and legendary Old World when it intrudes on the modern world, in addition to running several bookshops.

Susan's search for her father begins with her mother's possibly misremembered or misspelt surnames, a reading room ticket and a silver cigarette case engraved with something that might be a coat of arms.

Merlin has a quest of his own, to find the Old World entity who used ordinary criminals to kill his mother. As he and his sister, the right-handed bookseller Vivien, tread in the path of a botched or covered-up police investigation from years past, they find this quest strangely overlaps with Susan's. Who or what was her father? Susan, Merlin and Vivien must find out as the Old World erupts dangerously into the New.

©2020 Garth Nix (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"Garth Nix sets the standard for Fantasy." (Leigh Bardugo)

"Garth Nix is one of the best world-builders in fantasy." (Brandon Sanderson)

What listeners say about The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    66
  • 4 Stars
    36
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    61
  • 4 Stars
    31
  • 3 Stars
    7
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    61
  • 4 Stars
    31
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Booksellers

I have to say not a lot of books got sold but maybe that was because there was way too much otherworldly shenanigans afoot. Most enjoyable and fast paced. Enjoyed both the story and characters immensely!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent fun

Highly entertaining, quirky, funny - very enjoyable folklore-inspired take on a 'special one' story. Recommended!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

brilliant

Another great book from Garth Nix well worth listening to. Thank you for this book

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Dreadful

Dreadful narration. Dreadful book. One dimensional characters and flimsy storyline. Save yourself the time that I will never get back

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Slow

Very slow start, the first 3 hours should have taken 30mins. Unable to care about the characters as they are very 1 dimensional.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Whimsical adventure but lacks substance

I had high expectations for this book because the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix continues to be one of my favourite series. Overall the content of the story was interesting and I enjoyed the blending of real world and fantasy. Unfortunately I didn't feel invested in any of the characters and they felt very one dimensional.

The main character Susan is by any standards just a typical university fresher girl who is thrust into a surreal world where she quickly learns that there is something about her that makes her a target constantly threatened by dangerous magical beings. We are immediately swept into a fast paced story but we don't know much of her back story other than a mystery surrounding who her father is. My main gripe is that her reaction to the situation doesn't feel believable. It is even mentioned in the text that Susan is unusually taking everything in stride which combined with the Doc Marten wearing makes this feel like a very annoying 'not like other girls' trope. Despite her incredible ability to stay calm under pressure we never get any insight into how she manages to achieve this mental strength. Combined with the lack of any other notable traits it makes for a rather bland protagonist.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Crime and a little bit of magic!

loved the story and the characters were very likable. The narrator was easy to listen to and made the characters distinct. very enjoyable

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I hope there is a sequel!

Really enjoyed the book, from start to finish. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel! Very enjoyable rwad!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

Brilliant fun. Great storytelling. Outstanding narration. Enjoy.

And these are extra words because the stupid machine will not let me be brief and relevant. “ reviews must be fifteen words of over” Thanks Mummy for ruining that.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lauren
  • Lauren
  • 11-01-21

enjoyable light sci-fi fantasy

nothing complex about this story, it is light hearted and enjoyable easy read from first to last page. a combination of Neil Gaiman and Ben aaronovitch writing style is about the right description of the overall style of writing in this book.

looking forward to any further books should the author consider making it a series.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Atalpu
  • Atalpu
  • 04-01-21

Not especially clever

I usually like (or even love) books by Garth Nix. All of his Old Kingdom books and stories are exceptional. I love their atmosphere and most of their characters. Angel Mage was interesting but sadly it seems a stand-alone book. But here, the Left-Handed Booksellers of London is compared to the above mentioned titles flat and almost uninteresting. Characters are moving around a lot, there's a lot of dialogue. But I feel no real urgency in their actions. They just wander/run/drive/fly from one calamity to the next and we're riding along for the explanations and yelling and crying and...

There are good bits though, and these I loved. The scene at the mountain for example. I just wish there were more story with real meat on its bones, as opposed to the fluffy cotton candy the rest is made of. Don't get me wrong: there's action, there's blood, there's death and a lot of world-building, as the saying goes. It just lacks the spark I had hoped to jump over to me.

Compare his Old Kingdom novels, heck, take one of his short stories or novellas to Left-Handed Booksellers and you'll notice the difference. The richness, the depth, how you care for the characters. Here, I had a hard time wanting to finish the story, but I soldiered through.

Because everyone can have a bad day, I'm not angry, but I think of this book as a missed opportunity. Someone else wrote in their review, and I paraphrase, "Left-Handed Booksellers are at the low end of the Young Adult scale of books". I wish I had thought of writing that, because I tend to agree.