Capsule Reviews
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

I can’t even remember why I picked up this novel, but I’m glad I did. It turned out to be a weird, compelling cross between Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth and the Harry Potter series. It’s about books and computers, but that’s kind of like saying Harry Potter is about brooms. The subject, really, is the dreams and fantasies that lurk at the edge of our thoughts and beckon us inside, a journey we can’t ordinarily make in life but can simply, easily, thrillingly do in a story.

In Robin Sloan’s novel, former tech worker Clay Jannon stumbles into a very odd San Francisco bookstore whose long history and mythology swallow him up and set him spinning. Along the way he meets friends, lovers, indecipherable code, and the inimitable Mr. Penumbra. I’ll leave the rest for you to discover.

Postscript: I thought the story would appeal to my daughter, Maggie, a tech worker and a Phantom Tollbooth / Harry Potter fan. When she finished, she sent me these texts.

I wanted to tell you I finished Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore!!! It’s so good. I loved the whole thing. You’re right that it was a little slow in the middle but the ending was great!

I’m not sure if your copy did this but my cover glows in the dark! 😊

Thank you so so much for the book, I loved reading it because I knew we were kind of reading it together!!! 😃


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