‘The library is our memory. It’s all that survives.’
Lawrence’s world building is intricate dense and layered. It’s also living, dynamic and sensory, reminiscent of Spirited Away.
I would have happily read a story in either thread of this book, but the stark differences in the approach and style of the two viewpoints makes this a really disjointed and taxing read for most of its length.
The book is cinematic and detailed, but the density of detail over plot makes the first portion of Livira’s story a slog, while Evar’s experiences in the Library with his siblings and the Escapes are pacy and action-packed, but too arch and veiled to get properly invested in. Both needed the space the other was occupying to tell their stories in a more natural way.
Ultimately, the push and pull of the alternate stories of Livira and Evar is as wearing as it is intriquing and the effort needed to make it to the last third of the book is considerable.
I’d have preferred two different books to what’s being offered here.
Thanks to HarperCollins UK for giving me a copy of this book to review.