Book Review: The Left-Handed Booksellers of London – Garth Nix

Book Review: The Left-Handed Booksellers of London – Garth Nix

Release Date:
September 22nd 2020
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 416
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this book in my local bookshop
Rating: 4/5 stars


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.


The Left-Handed Booksellers of London is a whimsical fantasy adventure tale that follows Susan Arkshaw, a young woman who winds up involved with the mysterious booksellers – an extended family that protects the ordinary world from the creatures of the Old World. Susan is in London to start art school and find out who her father is, but her search may take her further into the Old World than anyone thought possible.

I grew up reading Garth Nix books and Sabriel remains one of my all time favourite books to this day. I always find that Nix’s books have really intriguing, clever concepts and this is absolutely no exception. I was completely captivated by the idea of a group of magical booksellers who not only sell books, but fight dangerous creatures, work out puzzles and protect the public from the Old World. The story was well paced and incredibly well executed. I found myself hooked early on and really enjoyed the ride this adventure story takes you on.

The story is set in a slightly alternate London in the 1980s and I loved the way Nix brought the sights and sounds of London to life. The world building felt solid and I was really fascinated by the history of the booksellers and the Ancient Sovereigns they stand against. Like all Garth Nix books the story has a cast of brilliant, compelling characters and I really liked Susan, Merlin and Viven. The three worked as a great team and I can’t wait to read more about these fascinating characters. The story has plenty of action, including a goblin kidnapping, fights against resurrected corpses and shoot outs with criminals. If you’re a fan of Garth Nix or looking for a fun, fantastical tale that will keep you hooked, this one should definitely be on your TBR.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Left-Handed Booksellers of London – Garth Nix

  1. Ah, this has me so hopeful. I hated the last Nix book I read — Angel Mage — so I’ve been really hesitant to try anything new from him. the Old Kingdom series is one of my absolute forever favorites, so not liking Angel Mage really, really bummed me out. But I’m happy to see you enjoyed this one!

    Liked by 1 person

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