Book Review: The Library of Shadows, by Mikkel Birkegaard translated by Tiina Nunally

Black Swan
430 pp.

The Library of ShadowsMy general impression of this book for the most part was “maybe it’s the translation, because this book is doing nothing for me.” Another reason why I didn’t have much of a feeling for the book was that the writer has a dyslexic character who plays a pivotal role in the story, but couldn’t be bothered to actually research dyslexia. (The writer seems to believe that dyslexic people are across the board completely unable to learn how to read and need to have magical assistance in order to obtain even  *basic comprehension. What was I talking about again? Oh, right; the story and my inability to stay interested in it.)

Our Hero is a young lawyer named Jon Campelli who receives word that his estranged father Luca has died. Luca is the owner of a book store and since Luca had no will, Jon now owns the place since he is the next of kin. It turns out that the books store is the meeting place of a secret organization of people with a peculiar psychic or magical talent. This talent enables them to influence the mind of the person they are reading to aloud. These people refer to themselves as Lectors, and his father was one of them. (It turns out that Jon has been using this ability to influence people during his cases, which is borderline unethical I would think, since he didn’t know he was using the talent in the first place.) It also turns out that Jon is extremely powerful.

After learning a little bit about the Lectors and meeting Our Heroine Katherina, a dyslexic “receiver” Lector who has the ability to amplify and direct the talents of a “transmitter” Lector, Jon discovers that all is not well with this secret organization. There is a rift between the receivers and transmitters that has split the organization in half for the past twenty years. The reason for the rift is that ha number of murders and ‘accident’ had possibly been arranged by the receivers. This created a feud, and apparently, no one ever considered the possibility that there might have been another organization that was targeting their organization except for Luca, Jon’s father. Who is now dead and there is a suspicion of murder.

Also, there is a business man who tries to get Jon to give up the book store and when he can’t, gets Jon fired from the firm he was working at.

This was a very dry book for me, and I could not get into it. I could see that there was a lot of interesting ideas but my impression of the writing was of something flat and colorless. I wasn’t very interested in the characters, and I was eternally annoyed by the uncorrected misperceptions of dyslexia. (At one point, Our Hero makes a comment to the effect that a dyslexic book store clerk would be useless. At another point Katherina is narrated as saying that she was completely unable to read–at all.) This book will possibly be more interesting to someone who doesn’t get terminally annoyed when a writer goofs up learning disabilities, or someone who does not mind not very interesting descriptions of a court case.


*The Reviewer understands that there is a variation in severity for dyslexia and that some dyslexics can’t read at all. The Reviewer however is not certain that The Writer knows this.

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Filed under book, fantasy elements, Review: Book, science fiction, urban

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