By Chad Musick
Publication Date: May 2, 2023
This story starts with a lonesome fourteen-year-old orphan, Ivy, getting by as best she can with only the animals painted in a mural to talk to. She doesn’t think of herself as lonely, but her world is certainly small. Although not quite as small as sixteen-year-old Himitsu has made his world. At least Ivy goes outside (when the weather is conducive enough to venture out in Alaska), Himitsu has refused to leave his apartment for over two years and limits his conversation to his fake girlfriend (a small robot, Moe) and his online “friends”.
Then each is gifted a magical library with the tempting offer to connect with their dead parents. The only caveat is that they need to talk to the Librarian and keep him wound up. Little do they know that once they enter with their imaginary friends, the friends can no longer leave. To find the right people in the library that might be able to help them, Ivy and Himitsu must fulfill errands for the Librarian, errands that force them to confront painful events in their pasts. But if they succeed, their futures could be stranger, and fuller, than they ever imagined.
I really enjoy Chad Musick’s style; it’s always just on this side of bizarre and his imagination blows me away. He also has a touch of a sweet TJ Klune vibe with themes of family, friendship, and reaching our potential. This novel was exactly what I anticipated.
Told by an unnamed narrator (although you can figure out who it is pretty quickly) that regularly breaks the fourth wall and makes fun of literary rules, this is a twisty, adventurous, and touching tale. Characters who seem completely irrelevant will pop in and there’s a lot of backstory tying them together, which the author cleverly slips in when you’re not quite expecting it. Often when there are a lot of disparate characters, I get bored as the author tries to bring me up to speed on them. Don’t worry, no info dumps here. Just witty and always slightly bizarre history.
There wasn’t much for me to pick at in this read. The writing is uniquely funny without trying too hard. The casual inclusion of Emily Dickinson, Victor Frankenstein, and Ramses II was inspired and although I wasn’t terribly satisfied with Simon’s outcome, I wouldn’t have changed anything else in how everything came together at the end.
Final rating: 4/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thank you to BookSirens and the author for providing the ARC ebook. I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.