The Wandering Jellyfish Bookshop has come through again, y’all! This week, I read Madeleine Roux‘s paranormal adventure, romance, all-around intriguing new novel The Book of Living Secrets. It was a ride.
(And vlogs are back!)
So, we start off with two friends, Adelle and Connie, it’s the Sadie Hawkins dance and Connie chickens out. See, she doesn’t want to go with the boy she asked because, well, she isn’t into guys. She’s very much in the closet and still figuring it all out, and despite the fact that she and Adelle are thick as thieves, she’s nervous to share her secret.
But Adelle doesn’t mind that Connie’s bailing last minute–she had other plans for the evening anyway. She persuades Connie to go to their favorite little occult bookshop as the owner has promised that he can send them to live within the world of their favorite book, Moira. Literally last second, they both have their doubts, but it’s too late, they’ve been sucked in. And this version of Moira is much darker than they expected, and they’re separated… it’s DRAMATIC.
Connie gets swept up with the books “villians,” who are much nicer than she expected; Adelle meanwhile, finds herself with the main character and her sidekick, and they aren’t what she expected either. Will they ever find each other? Will they ever figure out why the world is dark and dangerous and amiss?
It was engaging y’all, and I LOVED the characters. Adelle initially struck me as one of those outsiders who are fully comfortable in their weirdness, while Connie struck me as… an athletic version of the DUFF. But Adelle became vulnerable and interesting and Connie became a force to be reckoned with. I also thought it was fabulously interesting how none of the Moira characters were what they expected either.
The titular character disappointed Adelle–‘Don’t meet your heroes’ she remarked–and some of the side characters were much more round and developed than either of them could have imagined.
The premise reminded me, at first, of Lost in Austen with the whole real-person in the fictional world. But I love how Roux twisted that trope into one of dark magic and survival, with a little bit of romance sprinkled throughout. I. Was. Hooked.
And then it ended.
There was so much drama leading up to the climax, leading up to us learning whether or not they would get home, and then the chapter ended. And there was an epilogue of only about five pages that took place a year after their journey. I had to reread it a number of times to better understand the ending. It left me wanting more–especially since the potential conflict (that’s setting up a sequel??) was introduced but seemed, to me, almost dismissed pretty quickly. I thought it was a non-issue…and then it was an issue again. I just, I think I wanted a little bit more of an indicator that the plot point would stick–I hope this is making sense, it’s such an interesting and complicated plot point I think you’d a) just have to read it and b) would enjoy it more than a spoiler.
On the other hand, the fact that I can’t stop thinking about the ending might be an indicator that it was really well done? I mean, overall, I did really like the book, I’d say I easily loved 90% of it, it was just the end that left me feeling a little unsure about how much I liked it. That said, if there is to be a sequel, I think the epilogue was an ideal ending.
I’d definitely recommend The Book of Living Secrets to anyone who likes fantasy and adventure, and if you’re a romance fan like yours truly, there’s a few splashes of that for you too!
Well, that’s all I’ve got for this week. Next week, I’ll be reviewing Strange Magic by repeat author Jay Rafferty–very excited to see what’s in store this time!