The Forbidden Library
THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY is Django Wexler’s first fantasy novel for children and he knocks it out of the park with an exciting story about the beautiful and dangerous world of a very special library. Wexler’s heroine Alice is the shining heart of this story: a brave and practical young girl who refuses to flinch in the face of difficulty, be it the jaws of a dragon or the presumed death of her father.
The story opens when, late one night, Alice sneaks downstairs and catches a glimpse of her father arguing with a fairy. From this point on, nothing is the same again. Four days later, Alice’s beloved father is lost in a shipwreck and she is sent to live with her Uncle Geryon. She has never heard of Uncle Geryon before, and he owns a library that Alice is forbidden from entering on her own.
Uprooted from her home and family, Alice realizes that if she lives in a world where fairies are real, then the news that her father was lost in a shipwreck might not be so true after all. With this thought in mind, she holds her head high and throws herself into the world of the library to find the fairy she saw talking with her father.
Wexler’s debut novel for children deftly brings a fabulous and feisty heroine to life and girls and boys alike will root for Alice as she fights her way through the world of the library.
The library itself is a magical place that seems to change when she’s not looking. As Alice explores it, she meets Ashes, a talking cat who guards the library, and learns that the books in the library are more than what they seem. In fact, they are portals to other worlds, or prisons for dangerous creatures, controlled by Readers. And, after she accidentally falls into a book, Alice discovers that a Reader’s job is to enter the world of the books and defeat the creatures contained within. And even stranger ---- Alice may very well be the most powerful Reader ever.
With unflagging spirit, a kind heart and bravery to rival the hero of any book you’ve read before, Alice becomes a Reader and quickly finds herself embroiled in events beyond her control. She is torn between who to trust: Geryon, who trains her as a Reader; Isaac, the boy who snuck into the library with a secret of his own; or Ending, who controls the library itself. And through it all, she continues to search for the fairy, and the truth of her father’s death.
Wexler’s debut novel for children deftly brings a fabulous and feisty heroine to life and girls and boys alike will root for Alice as she fights her way through the world of the library. The novel is fast-paced and beautifully illustrated by Alexander Jansson, and the ending is sure to have readers clamouring for a sequel.
Reviewed by Lily Philpott on April 7, 2014