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Book Review: The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard

the library of shadows

After the mysterious death of Luca Campelli, the owner of an antique bookstore Libre de Luca, his son John inherits the beloved bookstore. John hasn’t seen or been in contact with his father in fifteen years. The two had a falling out after John’s mother died. John is greeted at his father’s funeral by Iverson, his father’s closest friend and business partner. John is surprised at how many people attended his father’s funeral; he didn’t realize how well the antique book selling was going for his father. After the funeral John, Inverson, and a red-haired woman who helped at the bookshop, by the name of Katherine, returned to the empty Libre de Luca. Iverson then begins to tell John about the Lectors and the receivers

In Mikkel Birkegaard’s debut novel there are two types of readers, Lectors and receivers. Lectors are those who can captivate listeners by simply reading aloud. They can influence the text by enhancing the author’s words. Only the best Lectors can actually change the visions listeners see in their head. They can also charge the books that they read. Charged books can be felt as soon as a person touches them, almost like an electric shock. On the other hand, receivers can actually enhance the mood of the reader. They can hear what readers are reading and to a small extent they can actually see what other people are reading.

. Understandably he has a difficult time believing everything. Iverson than explains that since Luca was a powerful Lector, John probably had extraordinary powers as well. However, these powers could only be harnessed by performing an activation ceremony. It was up to John whether he wanted to be activated or not. After a series of add events such as: an attack on the shop, John being pressured to sell the shop, and then he loses his job as a respected lawyer, he decides to become activated. During his activation it becomes clear that he is extremely powerful. Not only be he influence the text to whatever his liking, but sparks of electricity emit from his body if he goes too far. In some situations these surges can be deadly.

Once John is completely immersed in this new life, a life that his father was deeply involved with, members of this close knit community start being murdered. Iverson fears that the murders are being done by the Shadow Organization, an organization of Lectors and receivers looking to abuse their power. John soon discovers that the Shadow Organization has influenced many political and public figures throughout history to gain more power. Once they get word of John’s extraordinary powers, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes their next target. John must uncover the secrets of the Shadow Organization in order to save his new friends, even if it means deciphering whether or not his parent’s deaths were in fact, murders.

The plot in The Library of Shadows flows very nicely. The first chapter catches the reader’s attention and leaves them wanting to find out what happens next. Shortly after John attends his father’s funeral an air of suspense becomes the prominent feeling. Along with John, the reader discovers that there’s a traitor within the Lectors who is feeding information to the Shadow Organization. The traitor is fairly simple to determine, but their motives aren’t fully discovered until closer to the end of the novel. The novel’s biggest shortcoming is the ending. There is the classic cliché of good vs evil where the villain becomes completely over the top. This change of character came on suddenly and seems dot of place considering the antagonist had been working in the shadows throughout the majority of the novel. The ending comes abruptly after the final confrontation leaving the reader to wander what happens next, especially since there seemed to be some plot points that hadn’t been completed.