Book Review: “The Forbidden Library” by Django Wexler

Cover of "The Forbidden Library" by Django Wexler.
Cover of “The Forbidden Library” by Django Wexler.

Happy July, everyone! I hope that all of you had a wonderful June, and that July is just as good or even better.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Forbidden Library” by Django Wexler!

It’s been a while since I read a book where the main setting was a library or bookshop, so this seemed like the perfect book to pick up and read! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.”

Worldbuilding Development: 4 out of 5 stars

The worldbuilding is mildly confusing, as the reader, much like the main character Alice, is almost-immediately thrown into the world of Readers, the Library, and all the other beings and people the protagonist faces. However, explanations are given along the way; not in an info-dumping-esque manner, but instead feel more organic. Like Alice, I as a reader felt like I discovered new things during the course of the entire story, trying to piece together information about all the characters to figure out who to trust and truly listen to.

Plot Development: 4 out of 5 stars

The plot makes it hard for me as a reader to know which characters to really trust; however, in this case, it’s a good thing. I thought it was fun to read Alice navigating this new world of the Library, as well as learning the ropes as a Reader. Like Alice, I as a reader wonder who to truly trust, and I think the writing style did a great job of showing off the uneasiness of exploring the world of the book throughout the story.

There weren’t a lot of sideplots in this book. However, Alice and Ashes’ growing friendship could be accounted as a sideplot itself. It’s fun reading how both of them don’t immediately like/trust each other at first. It makes it more satisfying to read them bonding as close allies by the end of the book.

Character Development: 4 out of 5 stars

Alice is a very resourceful person, and very curious. It’s fun to read how she she slowly works through grieving the loss of her father, while also trying to learn more about her new environment, her abilities as a Reader, and trying to figure out who exactly to trust. I thought that her father’s death would affect her more than shown in the book, however. Her losing her father was very fresh to her. Then again, this could be something touched upon in future books in the series.

As for the other characters, I immediately had bad vibes when reading Geryon. I thought him being a villain character was a little too obvious. I would’ve liked for the book to play around more with whether he should be truly trusted or not. It would be fun to read, especially since he’s the one who first teaches Alice about her being  a Reader.

However, with many of the other characters being dubious in nature to an extent (Ashes, Isaac, Ending, Mr. Wurms, etc.), it was hard for me as a reader to see who was truly trustworthy. This isn’t always a bad thing. However, when being morally grey/suspicious is the main, obvious personality trait for most of the characters, it’s hard to sense their individual personalities. Ashes was one of my favourites to read other than Alice; he’s talking cat who isn’t afraid to be truthfully blunt with describing the situation. He and Alice were my favourite characters to read in the book.

Overall, I’m rating this book 4 out of 5 stars! 

If you like talking cats, magical books, and mysterious forces at play, this is definitely the book you want to pick up.

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