[Book review] Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines.

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Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.


With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . 

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Libriomancer is similar in many ways to California Bones, the last book I read. Both books have unique, novel magic systems. Both books are well-written. Both books took me forever to read because reading sessions were scant and far between.

However, unlike California Bones, which I just couldn’t be bothered to return to every time I put it down, the reason for my taking forever to finish Libriomancer was simple – life. I wanted to keep returning to it – I just didn’t have time to.

The magic system in this book is fascinating – having the ability to draw out items from books seems so oddly specific yet so elegant that I’m surprised this is the first book that’s doing so in such a way. The whole system is well fleshed out, too (unlike in California Bones). While most of said fleshing out takes place through info-dumpish dialogue, it didn’t feel too contrived and the explanations were interesting enough that I kept on reading anyway.

Of course, I do have some issues with the magic, problems that I’m hoping will be addressed in sequels. What about eBooks, for one? Do they work? Or other editions and/or translations of popular books? The explanation is that it has to be the identical text.

Magic aside, the book itself is a riveting adventure. The pacing is great, speeding by with non-stop action. While a lot of spells and some of the action requires a great deal of description, Hines’ writing is great enough that it doesn’t come off too boring or technical.

Without giving much away, I’ll just say that the ending is interesting (even if it did feel a bit shoved in), a novel way of resolving a very standard issue that pops up in stories that I’ve never seen before so props for that.

The cast of characters is interesting, too. I like that both the main characters are flawed and problematic in their own ways and that not everything in the book is clear-cut or black and white. Plus, it’s always great to see a female protagonist rock. Oh, and I love that Hines randomly references real-life people. I’m always a sucker for literary party tricks.

Overall, Libriomancer is a great read, fast and engaging with an interesting magic system to match. I’m definitely am looking forward to the sequel.

Rating: buy/borrow/bin

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2 thoughts on “[Book review] Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines.

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