It’s hard being a hip graphic designer in a Recession hit San Fransico. Clay Jannon has lost his job as an award winning web designer and a mixture of desperation and curiosity, has driven him into working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.
Mr Penumbra is charming and affable and Clay quickly decide to use his marketing skills to attract more customers. The few the store has do come in regularly, but they never seem to buy anything. Instead these ‘members’ borrow bizarrely obscure volumes from the back of the store, and it seems that each book leads them to the next in a very specific order.
Intrigued, Clay embarks on a complex analysis of the customers’ behaviour, getting his friends and new girlfriend (a Google employee who found the store from his online advert!) to help him. But when Mr Penumbra discovers their investigations he sets them on a path to a far bigger secret.
Obviously it’s hard for a BookEater to resist a book set in a bookstore, it’s where we all dream of spending our time after all! Throw in a mystery that can be solved by reading books and it’ll take a lot to disappoint! Thankfully the only thing that was really bad about this book was the protagonist’s name! I was grateful it was told in the first person so that I wasn’t confronted by it too much!
I subverted things a little by listening to this rather than reading it, and it works very well as an audiobook, the reader sounded right and I felt like I was hearing Clay’s story first-hand. It felt very natural, his friends and flat mates were completely believable which really helped ground the more fantastical elements.
What I loved most about this book though was how it mixed a love of modern tech with a love of old books. Often these two are set up in competition with each other (like in The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon) here they work collaboratively.
Definitely an enjoyable read for a book lover!