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The Forbidden Library

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The Forbidden Library kicks off an action-packed  fantasy series with classic appeal, a resourceful heroine, a host of magical creatures, and no shortage of narrow escapes--perfect for fans of Story ThievesCoraline, Inkheart, and Harry Potter.

Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

376 pages, Hardcover

First published April 1, 2014

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About the author

Django Wexler

51 books3,009 followers
Django Wexler graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked for the university in artificial intelligence research. Eventually he migrated to Microsoft in Seattle, where he now lives with two cats and a teetering mountain of books. When not planning Shadow Campaigns, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 739 reviews
Profile Image for Django Wexler.
Author 51 books3,009 followers
June 17, 2013
Fair warning -- I wrote the book, so my review is probably a little biased. But it looked lonely with no reviews at all.
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 347 books97.6k followers
February 15, 2020
My quick review.

Django Wexler is a friend. I checked out The Forbidden Library as an audio book from my very unforbidden local library.

Midway through reading this, Django suggested we get together for coffee. I told him that all depended on how The Forbidden Library ended. That our friendship hung in the balance.

Yes. We are still friends. We will go out for coffee.

I found something in this book that has been missing in a lot of fantasy books I've read lately. A sense of wonder.

The protagonist is plucky in the best sense of that little used word. She solves things herself. She dares. She thinks on her feet and comes up with surprising solutions.

While written for kids, I think there is a lot here for any fantasy reader to enjoy.

The audio book narrator does an excellent job with pacing, and with the 'voices' of the characters.

This would be a great audio book for families who have long school commutes or a long drive coming up. Very listenable.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,030 reviews2,604 followers
March 13, 2015
5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum: http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...

Updated: Interview with the author http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...

I'm a big fan of Django Wexler's work. His adult epic fantasy The Thousand Names blew me away last year, putting him on my favorite author radar so I've been keeping an eye out for more from him ever since. This past year I've also read the first book of his new novella series John Golden, gone back to read one of his older published novels from a small press, and of course this one, The Forbidden Library, his upcoming middle-grade title.

Anyway, I think it's official: Wexler excels at pretty much any genre he tries his hand at. I was initially curious and maybe a little skeptical as to how he would handle a children's novel, but this book was truly excellent. The author shows his talent and versatility in The Forbidden Library, creating original worlds filled with all kinds of interesting creatures, bringing them to life with such rich and detailed descriptions. I have no doubt adult readers will be enchanted by the wonderful creativity and imagination found in here as well.

The story itself is fantastic, and as an avid bibliophile it's hard for me to resist anything to do with libraries or reading about the wonderful books that take us to faraway places. As you'll see, the metaphor of books as portals to new worlds is actually quite literal in this case. The plot follows main protagonist Alice, a young girl who discovers she has a very special power. Called "Readers", people like Alice possess the ability to enter the worlds of certain books, which might seem great at first, until you realize these books serve as prisons to nasty creatures and the only way out again is if the Reader can defeat them.

However, if a Reader is successful in defeating and binding a creature, he or she will escape and also have access to its abilities. I thought this was a very sophisticated and inventive idea to explain how people like Alice derive their magical powers. Their spells are achieved by calling upon the creatures they control to channel it for them, and presumably a Reader can grow more powerful by defeating more creatures in "prison books" and taking control of their abilities.

The plot also had enough mystery to keep me constantly guessing; I could never be sure what everybody's motives were. I felt for Alice and her predicament of being suddenly thrust into a strange environment where she couldn't trust anyone, though she was far from helpless and I'm sure she had no need for anyone's sympathy. Courageous and headstrong, Alice is a good role model for young readers, being a take-charge kind of girl who doesn't take obstacles or setbacks lying down.

In some ways, The Forbidden Library was more complex than I would have expected from a middle-grade novel. While it had its fair share of levity (Ashes the talking cat will be a joy to many, for example -- and not just to cat-lovers!), it also had its moments of darkness. Sometimes it's both light and dark at once, as evidenced by the "Swarmers", Alice's horde of bizarre bird-like creatures that have the physical appearance and consistency of a rubber ball with legs. I confess, reading this made me want an army of Swarmers of my own -- in spite of the fact they're essentially a black mass of razor-sharp pecking beaks and I'd probably lose an eye. Like I said, the magical creatures found in this book and the sheer imagination behind them are a pure delight.

It's moments like that which make me feel this is a book both kids and adults can enjoy. It certainly has that wide appeal! I've been trying to read a lot more children's books/middle-grade books lately, taking note of my favorite titles to share with my daughter one day (who's still a bit too young now, but it's never too early to start her library!) Without a doubt, The Forbidden Library will be one of them.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,222 reviews2,052 followers
August 5, 2017
Another of those young adult books which is totally readable by not so young adults like me:) The Forbidden Library is full of magic and books, talking cats and dragons and people who can read themselves into books. Slightly reminiscent of Jasper Fforde but in this case the main character, Alice, is not in control of where she is going and the results are frequently scary.
I enjoyed the whole thing very much indeed and it was further complemented by some delightful illustrations. Finally I discovered that it is the first book in a five part series. Wonderful!
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
780 reviews131 followers
February 6, 2022
I got this for my daughter (10) as a Harry Potter alternative since she recently dived into that book world and I didn't want her horizons too narrow. This is more mature, darker, more threatening, but still eminently suitable for young readers. She loved it! Especially the Swarm. Her only complaint was that the occasional illustrations did not perfectly match with the text descriptions. She has asked for the next three books ASAP. Of course I will oblige.

Original review from my own 2019 reading below.

I've been hesitant about starting in on Django Wexler's self-described "doorstop fantasy", not feeling like adding a new series or author to my to-read list without some assurance of quality, despite that taking such chances has yielded suprisingly positive results in recent memory (such as with series by Joe Abercrombie and Kate Elliott). I became sold on Brandon Sanderson by reading his children's novels, consisting of the Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians series and The Rithmatist, and I am seriously on the verge of starting Sanderson's ostensibly adult works as a result, despite that they are collectively vastly greater doorstoppers than Wexler's oeuvre to date. More like a barricade at this point. So, I felt there would be little harm and possibly great benefit in trialing Wexler with his first children's novel. Plus, Library! (I am one of those established suckers for books featuring libraries and librarians).

Personal introduction aside, The Forbidden Library was pretty damn good! I found it very original in its details if not in its general setup, and the resilient, smart, orphaned protagonist was an easy character to like. The magic system of "Readers" and special types of books was unique, and the fantastic creatures discovered herein were surprisingly non-derivative. I expected to find creatures pulled from established literature, but the original creations make this book very fresh. Plus, those rubbery kiwis comprising "The Swarm"? Freaking adorable, while also deadly. I think this is a wonderful book aimed at middle-schoolers of any gender.

Two things in particular will keep me reading the rest of the series: the number of mysteries and unanswered questions in this book, and the relative brevity of the series (complete at 4 books). These plus the enjoyable readability of the first have sold me on Django. I now regret re-donating the copy of The Thousand Names that I picked up for a dollar, especially since I have now checked my local library's catalogue and found that Mr. Wexler's adult books are not currently in their collection.
Profile Image for Daniel.
753 reviews72 followers
January 2, 2016
Jos jedna brza i vrlo zabavna knjizica sa interesantnim glavnim likom (female and smart... gasp that's possible :P ) i odlicnim magijskim sistemom. Ovo narocito lezi nama koji volimo da citamo da imamo moc koja nas transportuje u knjige ili druge svetove di je knjiga samo portal. Probemi sa kojima se junakinja srece se resavaju kombinacijom brzog razmisljanja i koriscenjem sile i sve je odlicno opisano.

Pored svega toga knjiga prosto odise odlicnom gotskom atmosferom, spooky i scary je a opet nigde ne pise its scary vec sami opisi i razgovori izazivaju taj osecaj i obozavam to kada pisac ide varijantom pokazi a ne pricaj samo o tome.

Sama prica je u sustini dosta jednostavna ali je tako jedinstveno prikazana da to uopste ne smeta.

Iako je YA samo navalite :)
Profile Image for M.L. Brennan.
Author 8 books288 followers
August 15, 2013
So, SO good. Django Wexler is one of those writers who, like Gaiman, Rowling, Snicket, and Lewis, can write a perfectly presented children's book that will also appeal to adults. Alice, the primary character, is clever, brave, and determined to find her father. She's a reader, and in this world that is a Reader, because that's where the magic in this book is found.

There is some delightful wonder in this book (the cats and the swarmers were my favorites) but it's also one of those books that is much more than just a pleasant presentation -- the themes here are complex and nuanced, and the dangers that Alice faces are extremely real. The characters that surround Alice are nuanced -- there are no simple people or easy allies, instead Alice has to realize that everyone around her has a hidden agenda (sometimes more than one!) that may or may not be in her best interest. There is a very interesting ongoing theme of Alice encountering very cute things that turn out to be extremely dangerous. And Alice finds herself being faced with hard, morally complicated decisions about what she is willing to do in order to survive. There's also a strong emphasis on Alice getting herself out of danger, using only her own abilities and her own wits, rather than waiting for someone to save her or for the problem to conveniently resolve itself.

I also can't state enough how beautiful the illustrations are. Wexler has a wonderful way with description, and the illustrations are delightful little Easter eggs tucked in among the text.

I wish that this book had been written when I was little, but I loved it intensely now, and I can't wait to give it to my nephews to enjoy. I'm also eagerly waiting for the next Alice book, because there are so many mysteries still unsolved.
Profile Image for Kribu.
510 reviews52 followers
April 1, 2014
I wanted to read this book the moment I found out about it. It sounded like the perfect blend of fantasy, magic and adventure - and in a magical library, no less! with talking cats!

So I jumped into it excitedly, once I got my hands on a copy. I expected to like it. I wanted to like it.

And yet...

It took me more than half the book to even get into it at all. Until then, it was a struggle. It had all the right ingredients, but it lacked something. Spirit? Excitement? I don't even know. Everything was there that should have worked, but it just failed to grab me, plodding on slowly.

I couldn't put my finger on it for the longest time, until I worked out at least one of my big problems with the book (and not just this book): there are middle grade books that work on multiple levels, with subplots and secondary characters with their own lives, with people who have histories, people who have more than one interest; and then there are middle grade books which are... simpler. Much, much simpler.

This is one of those, or at least it was for me. It's a book that has exactly one (plodding, slow) plot. It's not a tree with branches going off, branches of secondary plot points or action outside the main narrative thread. It's a ... post. A straight line. It's completely linear. It's all about Alice going from point A to point B, with some stops along the way but never, ever branching off, doing anything that isn't directly plot-relevant. There's not a single character she meets that is anything but a plot-relevant prop, there to either hinder her or help her (or sometimes both at once). I didn't really get the impression of any of those characters as real people with lives outside of Alice's plot; whenever they weren't needed, they were just put aside on a shelf, waiting for the next time they'd need to turn up.

That's not to say that a completely linear children's adventure is a bad thing. No, it's not. It's rarely as satisfying as a multi-level adventure, populated with real people with histories and own lives outside of their interactions with the protagonist, but most adventures for young children are linear like this. Except that I did get the feeling this was aimed mostly at younger teens, not so much 8-year-olds.

I'd be a lot more forgiving if the pace had picked up faster, though. As I said above, it took me more than halfway into the book before it felt like the introductory parts were behind us and the real adventures started. And the latter half of the book was more ... well, if not entirely satisfying, then certainly faster-paced and more exciting, even if it felt more like a handful of separate little adventures strung together than a coherent narrative.

I also had some problems with the magic in the book. It's not explained very thoroughly - somehow some people just have the ability to "Read", i.e. to read specific books that have magical creatures in them? and then they can kill or bind those creatures and afterwards they'll have the magical powers of those creatures at their disposal, and can use the creatures as slaves? - and I felt quite uncomfortable with the underlying evil of this whole system.

Yes, it's a point in the book: Readers - sorcerers - are cruel, twisted, evil people who think nothing of killing and hurting others because it's what their entire magical power relies on; but considering how easily Alice takes to that (and that's another thing - it came to her entirely too easily) and how she takes little convincing to use the powers she's obtained, even while arguing it's not right and she'd rather make the creatures submit than kill them outright, well. Alice was a reasonably okay protagonist otherwise, resourceful and courageous, but I do admit the entire system just doesn't sit well with me.

Actual rating is more like 2.5, maybe 2.25 - the first half of the book would barely be a 2, the second half perhaps almost a three - but I'm trying to rate this considering how someone in the actual target group might like it. I think an eight-year-old me would have liked it a little more than current me (although the eight-year-old me was also into considerably more complex adventures), so three stars it is.

* ARC of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review. Thanks!
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
April 24, 2014
I read Wexler's previous book (The Thousand Names), and liked it well enough that I picked this up even though I saw that it was aimed at a younger audience. I didn't expect to like it *quite* as much, due to that fact.

I needn't have worried. I loved this book. It may seem like an exaggeration, but with 'The Forbidden Library' Wexler slips under Diana Wynne Jones' mantle - and is fully worthy of it. (Now, if only Miyazaki would option this story, as he did Wynne Jones' 'Howl's Moving Castle,' and animate the Swarm. The ultimate cuteness would be complete!)

Just on the face of it, I have to admit, it would be difficult to see how I could dislike this book. It's got all the good stuff - I could not conceivably say no to a secret library full of eerie dangers, books that are portals to other worlds, and magical cats (with attitude). Plus it's got an ingenious heroine, a roguishly handsome wizards' apprentice, nasty fairies, and a dragon. Not enough? There's more too...

And there is clearly going to be even more, because although there are plenty of adventures here, the main mystery remains unsolved, pending publication of a sequel... which I'll be reading.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book!

Profile Image for Scott.
385 reviews22 followers
May 4, 2016
I really, really loved this book. Here we have a young, smart, capable, and brave young lady thrown into a completely new world where magic is real and books can transport you to magical places.

It was whimsical and funny and slightly creepy and had an interesting mystery and premise. What more could you want in a book?
Profile Image for Lubinka Dimitrova.
254 reviews150 followers
August 4, 2016
A delightful little book, perhaps a bit heavy on the dark atmosphere, given that its target audience are mostly children, but on the other hand, the heroine is a feisty little thing that I'd like to follow through her further adventures. And there are dragons! (The last sentence of the book was the best, btw).
Profile Image for Helen.
877 reviews2 followers
May 28, 2016
This reminded me of other things; books and tv. Despite the lovely prose, I didn't connect to the characters as much as I'd have liked. Having said that I'm not the target audience and I know younger me would've read it many times, in the dark!
Profile Image for Lata.
3,598 reviews191 followers
January 20, 2022
2022-01: 3.5 stars.
On this reread, I think my favourite parts of this book are the talking cat and Alice. And I liked the sense of danger and questions we’re left with by the end of the book.

2016-10: 3 stars.
Alice is terrific. She lives with her father in New York in the 1920s, perhaps. She finds herself orphaned at the beginning of the story, and sent to live with a mysterious relative with an even more mysterious library. (A library with thousands of books and shifting corridors. I want to go there!) I She quickly stumbles on a portion of the truth, and has to go through several trials, forcing her to think and act quickly and decisively. She has the assistance, or hindrance, of a talking cat (love the cat's attitude! It rings oh so true) and a boy skulking about the library. There is a much bigger world alluded to, with magical creatures, wizards of varying abilities and characters, and odd worlds. There is also a mystery regarding Alice's father.

Enjoyed this, though not as much as Django Wexler's other series based in a Napoleonic-like era.
Profile Image for Bart.
1,222 reviews30 followers
February 25, 2019
Actual rating: 3.50

The Forbidden Library series:
Book 1 - The Forbidden Library: 3.50 (3*)
Book 2 - The Mad Apprentice: 3.75 (4*)
Book 3 - The Palace of Glass: 3.75 (4*)
Book 4 - The Fall of the Readers: 3.75 (4*)
Profile Image for Rob.
848 reviews535 followers
August 9, 2016
Executive Summary: While I don't make it a point of reading much YA, let alone "Middle Grade" books, I enjoyed this enough to pick up the next one when it comes out.

Full Review
I mostly decided to check this one out on the strength of The Thousand Names and generous nature of Mr. Wexler in doing a Q&A with my small Side Reads group last year.

I don't have kids of my own, so it's hard for me to gauge how much the target demographic would enjoy this. I can only really weigh in with the thoughts of a 30-something fantasy fan.

I thought the book has a strong protagonist that hopefully kids could identify with. Someone whose smart, strong willed and adventurous (albeit reluctantly at first).

I like the choice of a female protagonist. Fantasy is overrun by young male chosen one stories, so it's always a nice change of pace to have a female.

The book follows the apprentice mage trope pretty much, but with a pretty unique magic system that seems well thought out. Being a middle grade book, the rules of the system aren't very flushed out, but that's OK. We learn as our protagonist learns, and I figure more details will become clear as the series goes on.

I also like the choice of setting. It seems to be the early to mid 1900's based on the level of technology. This has a good fit to the story being told.

The story was mostly fun and kept me wanting to turn pages. It probably also helped that as a "Middle Grade" book I flew through the pages easily finishing the book in only a few hours. The ending was a pretty good stopping place that left me wanting to know what would happen next and about the world and magic system Mr. Wexler introduced.

While I don't plan to check out other "Middle Grade" books in the future, I will at least check out the next book in this series when it comes out. It seems to me like one of those series you could read with your kids and enjoy right along side them.
Profile Image for Kagama-the Literaturevixen.
793 reviews124 followers
Want to read
March 20, 2014
when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist

You had me at talking cat now you throw in an arrogant boy too? Be still my heart :P

Profile Image for Suzanne.
1,612 reviews
May 29, 2016
This was a fun middle-grade book. I like what I've seen of the magic system, especially since it relates to books! I'm pretty sure I'm a Reader.
Profile Image for Mark.
486 reviews84 followers
August 8, 2017
Good entertaining read, will finish the series.
Profile Image for Casey Blair.
Author 9 books54 followers
March 29, 2014
Heroines with agency and functional critical thinking faculties are my favorite. As are cats.
Profile Image for Abi Doughty.
16 reviews
March 13, 2014
Alice lives quite an ordinary life until one day she creeps down to the kitchen and sees her father talking to a fairy and wonders whether she has been imagining things. Soon after, Alice goes to live with a man claiming to be her uncle and discovers that magic is real (and seems to be largely unpleasant). Her uncle bans her from entering his library alone, but soon curiosity gets the better of Alice and she goes exploring. The library is a labyrinthine place in which the layout is constantly changing. Some books leak magic which affects the area around them, maybe making a section of the library have a pond or trees in it. As if that isn't enough to make you want to read it, the library is inhabited by cats which can talk. A great read and really looking forward to further adventures with Alice.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
350 reviews22 followers
January 7, 2018
I liked this book, and I loved Alice as a character -she has so much agency- but I really hate it when a book doesn't wrap up any of its conflicts by the end. I couldn't believe it was over because literally none of her problems have been solved. I felt like I reached the end of the sample, not the end of a book.
Profile Image for Maria Isabel.
10 reviews2 followers
March 6, 2014
This book is very awesome, almost like Alice In Wonderland so yeah you end up in a book!! Anyway this is an awesome book especially since it talks about my most favorite thing in the world!! BOOKS, and it very nice almost like Inkheart.
Profile Image for Anya.
763 reviews168 followers
April 7, 2014
The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler is a middle-grade story about a girl named Alice who stumbles into a world where reading books literally takes her to new worlds. Unfortunately, those worlds seem to frequently be filled with deadly beasts and the real world with ancient and heartless Readers doesn’t seem all that much better. The Forbidden Library pulled me in the second I saw the first illustration and I can’t wait for the sequel! The ARC I read didn’t actually have all the illustrations either, so I’m planning on buying the finished copy just so that I can go through and see all the ones that I missed; I’m that in love with these illustrations ;-).
Note: I received The Forbidden Library from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

On Starships and Dragonwings Button

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on April 15th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Length: 373 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher

Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.
4 Stars

I mentioned the amazing illustrations right? The first one is actually of this creepy poison-sprite thing and I had to keep reading for a while after seeing that one before I could fall asleep! The creativity and inhuman-ness portrayed in these drawings is really phenomenal and I’m so pumped to see the rest in the final copy.
It’s really fortunate that there are illustrations in The Forbidden Library because the creatures that Wexler has come up with are way beyond the typical fantasy critters. The descriptions of these creatures evokes all sorts of great imagery as I tried to keep in mind that they weren’t the fantasy creatures I was used to, but I think the illustrations will really help with this, so get excited!
The magic system in The Forbidden Library involves encountering and defeating creatures in magic books in order to gain access to their power. I really liked the “gotta catch ‘em all” feeling this brought, since the more creature powers you collect, the better powers you have :D. *gets out Nintendo games* >.>
Alice is a bookish MC, which is kind of a given since The Forbidden Library is about book magic, but she felt very fresh to me. She reminds me a bit of a young Hermione, which was fun, but she also has a cold streak to her that will be interesting to see developed. The things that she has gone through as a young girl have definitely started to have an effect on her sense of morality, which is intriguing to see in a young character.
While the plot of The Forbidden Library is fairly simplistic, there are a number of hints revealing that deeper things are going on and I have a lot of hope for the series as a whole. There are some ancient forces at work in The Forbidden Library and it looks like they are going to be far more interested in Alice than she probably would like.
The magic system of The Forbidden Library is cool, but kind of immoral. In order to get a creature’s power, Alice has to literally kill it or force it to submit. She then can summon it at will and it has to follow her commands. There is a lot of talk among the intelligent bound creatures of just how similar this is to slavery of intelligent things and I just didn’t know how to feel in the end. I want to be excited about Alice gaining power and cool magic, but if it comes at the expense of her having to seek out and kill intelligent beings? That made me a bit uncomfortable and I hope that Alice realizes this isn’t a good way to go later in the series.
There aren’t many secondary characters that Alice really bonds closely with in The Forbidden Library. For one reason or another, things just don’t turn into solid friendships, which is one of those things I’ve come to expect from a middle-grade book ya know? In the end, I just felt lonely along with Alice and wished that she had at least one person she could actually rely on.
The Forbidden Library only barely brushes the surface of this magic system and I found myself a bit confused and wanting more information. There are prison books and portal books and perhaps other types of books? We briefly get to see how magic books are made, but it’s still a bit fuzzy. I kind of wished that Alice had had more time to learn even if it meant less time battling book monsters.
The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler is a great fantasy middle-grade adventure and an exciting start to a new series. The magic system involving books is probably the biggest draw for most of us book lovers, but there is just so much to love! Wexler’s experience with the adult fantasy genre really shows with his creativity and unique characters, and I can’t wait to see where he takes this series.
Profile Image for Hebah.
462 reviews9 followers
February 5, 2018
Reminds me of a cross between Inkheart and Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - the ability to enter books crossed with a heroine with a wonderfully strong sense of agency.
Profile Image for Tnkw01.
406 reviews12 followers
August 31, 2018
I know this was meant for a younger audience but I loved this story. The magic system is very creative and I can't help but feel Harry Potter fans would love this series.
Profile Image for *Thea 'Wookiee'sMama' Wilson*.
243 reviews71 followers
April 9, 2014
Where to start with this review? How about the word AMAZING!

This is the best book of this type I've read in a long while. Yes, it may be written for the younger viewers but as an adult reading it I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this doesn't read like a kids book and it very enjoyable to read as an adult reader. Granted, that the language used is simpler than what you would find in a adult book but that's not necessarily a bad thing as it means you read this without have to think about the words and their underlying meanings, no over-thinking required!

The book revolved around Alice Creighton, a young orphan who is sent to live with a strange man, Geryon, and finds herself within a very odd set of circumstances revolving around a very peculiar library within the grounds of Alice's new home. A library full of strange books and even stranger creatures including an awful lot of cats so unlike your normal run-of-the-mill moggies. Basically full of magic and Alice finds out that she is a 'Reader', a user of magic able to go inside books and able to dominate and control whatever is within.

It's a very interesting idea indeed and the book itself has been well executed. The writing flows easily with a lovely fluidity. As my copy was an e-ARC copy it was missing the illustrations that the final book will have as they were still to be confirmed and to have their position within the text confirmed. I am sure that the pictures will help no-end with the imagery and I know I will have to buy the final book for myself as my curiosity is terrible and I need to see the illustrations, the words that told me there was supposed to be an illustration drove me nutty as I just wanted to see them! If ever there was a good excuse to make a purchase following a ARC read then this is it!

The characterisation in the book is superb and can't be faulted. Alice is a lovely character, the girl with all the gifts who is orphaned at a young age. She begins the book scared of what is going to happen to her following the death (?) of her father but full of curiosity for her surroundings and for the world in general. Throughout the book she really grows as a character and you really fall for her and her little feline sidekick Ashes (who is pretty cool and a talking cat, a talking CAT!). The other characters all have their own little unique qualities that make each and every one of them interesting (Particularly the little maid Emma, there's something VERY odd about her!) and I hope that if Django Wexler writes a sequel we will get a more in depth look into each of the them as they all have a shadowy secret side to them that makes them even more interesting.

All in all I haven't enjoyed a book for younger readers like this since Eragon first got released. It's wonderful book full of vivid imagery that your mind can run totally free with.

Please Django.... please write a follow up book...... pretty please?

Would I recommend this? Indeed I would, in fact I already have as the first person I told about when finishing it was my mother who loves this kind of book and I know she'll be first in line to buy it on release day!

Profile Image for Evelina.
161 reviews27 followers
June 30, 2016
The Forbidden Library Saga is far more appetizing to me than any other Django Wexler’s books, perhaps because of the many grains of fantasy that dissipate through its pages from the very beginning.
For me, the initial impression it left was: the mixture of all fairy-tales. It firstly reminded me of Coraline because of the cat that guides Alice through the book labyrinth; next, it spectaculously morphed into a Graveyard book when Mr. Black’s character appeared-his name really reminded me of poor Nobody Owens’s family assassin. When Alice first arrives to Geryon’s house, it was Beauty and the Beast all over again-she was alone in huge mansion with no one to talk to, yet the table had always been laid with exquisite food which she could eat anytime she wanted. When she becomes Geryon’s apprentice-oh, this really reminds me of Sorcerer’s Apprentice :) Last, and not the least, there is, of course, the omnipresent Alice in Wonderland vibe-the young protagonist’s name is Alice; there is a snarky Cheshire-like cat Ashes following her around and, naturally, the humongous book world once she discovers she is a Reader. And all those quirky and intelligent dialogues she has with book creatures so reminiscent of Caroll’s masterpiece…
So what is the bottom line of the book and who are the Readers, exactly? They are people who can travel inside books-yes, like Harry Potter did with Tom Riddle’s diary, but in Alice’s case, with much more dangerous consequences. In each of the books she enters, she must either bind the creature that resides in it or die :/ Quite grim, is it not? Once the creature (s) are bound to her will, a coloured string creates itself between her and the creature in her mind, and when she tugs on that string, the creature which she chose must come at her beck and call and protect her. She can even temporarily become the creature or take upon herself some of the creatures numerous characteristics. Each time the creature from the book is bound, there is a wonderful illustration of it on the inside of a book, which reminds me of the Alice in Wonderland book illustrator. A way to bring a moment to life with a graphic solution :)
She also meets another Reader’s apprentice just like herself-Isaac-and I have a feeling there will be a romance developing between these two.
There is yet another thing that should be mentioned-Alice’s father seemingly dies at the beginning of the book and she is also trying to discover is he really dead and who is to blame for all that.
Profile Image for Mia.
291 reviews38 followers
April 22, 2015
I was fortunate to get an advanced copy of this book at NYCC. This is a fantasy adventure tale for middle graders and older.

Not all books are equal. Some books are more than just a collection of words but are magical portals. Such special books also serve as a form of containment unit for various creatures. The select few who can open these portals are called 'Readers' because they can read themselves into a book. This ability, however, comes with a catch. Once inside a book, the only way out is for the Reader to subdue the creatures inhabiting it. Once subdued, a Reader exercises a measure of control over the creatures.

Alice is one such Reader though she has only recently discovered this. As she learns the nature and extent of her abilities, it also tests her moral, mental and physical fortitude. She must navigate the waters of this new expansive universe as well as distinguish between friend and foe.

Well-mannered, courageous, resourceful and possessing integrity an adult would envy, Alice makes for a fantastic lead, a great character for a young reader to relate to and emulate. She makes mistakes and is no stranger to suffering, but she persists and manages to maintain and fortify her innate center.

I can imagine my ten-year-old self reading this after everyone has gone to bed, as was my habit. I would have been engrossed by this thrilling adventure that does not talk down to me. 'The Forbidden Library' is more complex than you might think. I like the idea that an enterprising young reader would be so caught up in the story as to meet any unfamiliar words by an immediate recourse to a dictionary and complex themes by an impatient query to, and/or discussion with, his/her family and friends.

This book titillates with adventure, suspense and heroism that would appeal to children and adults alike. It has the rather rare quality of a book that manages to entertain and satisfy on many different levels. It would also likely provide a different takeaway after each read. If I have any beef with this book, it's that it intentionally leaves open threads as it shall be a continuing series.

If you remain unconvinced by the presence of a precocious, intelligent, indefatigable young girl, perhaps the adorable interior art will be enough to sway you. If you've enjoyed offerings from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, Cornelia Funke, Diana Wynne Jones or Madeleine L'Engle, I wouldn't be surprised if you'd enjoy 'The Forbidden Library' as well.
Profile Image for Sam.
2,095 reviews32 followers
March 30, 2014
Huge thank you to Kathy Dawson Books and Netgalley for this ARC!

Ever since I saw the cover for The Forbidden Library, I knew I had to have it. I love library adventures, and when a book is set in a library or is about uncovering ancient information, or it just has a lot of humor in its approach, I just get giddy on the inside. Django Wexler's The Forbidden Library is fairly dark at times for a children's book, but there's a lot of mystery and intrigue, just as their is courage and crazy.

Alice is a solid protagonist. She's plucky, quirky, adventurous and lovable. Her narrative is very engaging, and her curiosity often gets the better of her. She's paired with a fantastic ensemble cast, from Ashes, the talking cat, to sweet, adorable Isaac. The main mystery within the story is that Alice loses her father to a mystery shipwreck and is forced to move in with her Uncle Geryson and his talking cat. To survive a shipwreck is unlikely, but Alice believes that considering the bizarre circumstances of how it happened that he could have potentially survived.

Wexler writes beautiful prose and description. There's an exquisite amount of detail in how he describes Alice and the world that surrounds her. The prose is really what kept me completely sucked into the story, and I had a hard time putting the book down because I wanted to uncover each and every one of the mysteries that is within the novel. In a lot of cases, this book is a mystery, wrapped in another mystery, wrapped in an enigma. There's always more questions than answers, and as answers begin to form, more questions appear. It makes for a fun and engaging read a lot of the time, and Wexler definitely went in some directions I didn't entirely expect him to go.

Not only is this a fantastic middle grade novel, but it's one that I think a lot of adults would equally enjoy because the layering of narrative is just so strong. There's so much adventure and exploration, and sometimes that's what you need in your life (at least, I know I do!). If you love middle grade or libraries, this is a book worth your attention.
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