The Library of Shadows - Mikkel Birkegaard

I am not sure how I came across The Library of Shadows. I was positive that I was searching for literary thrillers on Flashlight Worthy and this book was on a list. For the life of me, I cannot find it again. According to the search bar, this book isn't even listed on that website. Regardless of the fact that it has disappeared off the website (or that I am quite possibly nuts), I like trying new-to-me authors, so I ended up buying it off Book Depository. I am pleased that I did. 

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Danish
Publisher: Transworld Publishers
Year: 2007
Rating: 4/5

Imagine that some people have the power to affect your thoughts and feelings through reading. They can seduce you with amazing stories, conjure up vividly imagined worlds, but also manipulate you into thinking exactly what they want you to.

When Luca Campelli dies a sudden and violent death, his son Jon inherits his second-hand bookshop, Libri di Luca, in Copenhagen. Jon has not seen his father for twenty years, since the mysterious death of his mother.

After Luca's death is followed by an arson attempt on the shop, Jon is forced to explore his family's past. Unbeknown to Jon, the bookshop has for years been hiding a remarkable secret. It is the meeting place of a society of booklovers and readers, who have maintained a tradition of immense power passed down from the days of the great library of ancient Alexandria. Now someone is trying to destroy them, and Jon finds he must fight to save himself and his new friends. 

This book has a really interesting premise. The story focuses on a society of bibliophiles that have special powers. When these people read aloud they are able to really bring a story to life for the enjoyment of their listeners, by manipulating their thoughts and feelings. They can create vivid images, making the listener feel like they are really in the story. This is the ultimate reading experience. These society calls themselves 'lectors' and those that do these readings are called 'transmitters'.

Along with the 'transmitters' we have people who are called 'receivers'. These people are not readers (they are often dyslexic) but they can 'hear' when other people are reading, whether it is aloud or to themselves. They can not only receive images, words and feelings but they can focus their energy on helping the transmitters enhance their storytelling.

When Luca dies, Jon must go back to the bookstore he hasn't visited for twenty years. At first, he just plans on tying up loose ends and possibly selling, but Iverson, Luca's long time friend and employee, introduces Jon to the world of lectors and to the fact that he has not only inherited the store, but this gift of transmitting from his father. He is also a much more powerful transmitter than any ever known.

He also learns that not all lectors are interested in helping people achieve a fantastic literary experience. There are a group of lectors (dubbed The Shadow Organisation) who use their powers to manipulate the minds of politicians and those in power, in an effort to further their own ambitions. They will stop at nothing to aquire Libri di Luca and to force Jon to join their ranks.

Joined by a receiver who worked for his father named Katherina, Jon races against time to find out who the Shadow Organisation are and what they are after. Little does he know, he is entering into dangerous territory.

So what did I think of this story? You know when you are reading a book and although you might be enjoying it, it is similar to other books you have read? I didn't feel that here. Although this story may not be totally original, I haven't read anything like it before. The idea of lectors was new to me and I found it quite an interesting concept.

Imagine being able to really step inside a story and feel like you are there? to be able to feel the rain on your skin... the wind in your hair... almost touch the grass or the trees... that would be amazing! I am lucky enough to be able to visualise things quite clearly when I read, but nothing like that. Having a lector around would be pretty cool.

This story was full of action. Most of the chapters ended on a mini cliffhanger which made me want to keep turning the pages. The prose wasn't anything special. It was to the point and not 'beautiful' as I was expecting, but I am not sure how much was lost when this novel was translated from Danish to English. Apparently this novel was a bestseller in Denmark.

I had a little bit of trouble warming to the characters at first. Especially Katherina. I still think she could have been developed better. I couldn't really 'feel' most of the characters as well as I would have liked. That didn't really detract from the story too much though as it was a solid thriller and  I still found myself cheering them on! I would be more than happy to read more novels written by Birkegaard.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes thrillers, books about books or just wants to read something a little bit different.
All content © And the plot thickens... 2009-2011 or their respective owners as credited.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP