Normally, I don’t read tons of adult fantasy. Usually it has too much sex and profanity, which isn’t my thing. The Magic Ex Libris series by Jim C. Hines is a delightful exception.
I don’t remember where I first heard about this book now. I think it was from one of my Facebook writing friends. They were geeking out about how cool it was for books to generate magic.
Because that’s the heart of libriomancy, which is the unique form of magic used by the hero of the series, Isaac Vainio.
I always knew books were magical. The idea of them generating actual spell-casting power, however, was new. And intriguing.
Isaac Vainio is a librarian in small town, Copper River, MI. But he’s also a researcher for a secret
society that regulates the appearance of magic in the world.
Sure, he might be slender and wear glasses, but if Isaac has a book in his hand, watch out. A group of vampires discovers this in the very first chapter of the series opener.
The pace never slows. You’ll meet the tough, bokken-weilding dryad, Lena, whose motorcycle isn’t half as cool as the magically enhanced car Isaac drives.
Do you like pets? How about a flaming spider? Smudge is one thing Isaac pulled from an obscure work of fiction years ago. Now the spider acts like an early warning system for trouble.
And there’s plenty of that. There’s also allusions galore to literature and history, perfect for the book nerd in me (and you).
Magic. Battles. Strange varieties of supernatural creatures. In fact, you’ll never see a vampire sparkle again after meeting the dark family of them in this novel.
There’s even a little romance. This book garnered five glaringly brilliant stars from me.
In the second book, Isaac and Lena have become an item. However, because of the way Lena saved him at the end of the first book, she’s become a target for some nefarious magic users.
Right away, we have a vampire who can talk to ghosts helping Isaac get the scoop on his murdered friend. But when that unique individual meets his demise, things with the vampires sour.
And they’re not even the big, bad guy. You’ll learn early on that Isaac finds his way onto the hit list of more supernaturals than the rest of us have even dreamed up.
Somehow, he manages to find the right books and work the right spells to save the day. In the end, his boss isn’t impressed because a dark entity is trying to possess Isaac, using his links to books to trap him.
The boss’ solution seems to say “the end” to the magic. But how can this be? There’s another book.
The non-stop action and amazing character development in the sequel helped it score another five stars.
This is the Christmas gift that made it to the top of my “to be read” pile. I wouldn’t normally spring
for a hardback, but I happily put it on my Amazon wish list.
Isaac is fighting depression. He can’t cope with his loss of magic. Or the fact that a teenager he’d promised to protect has gone missing.
Books used to be magical. Now they’re meaningless. He’s determined to use his non-magical brainpower to track down the kidnappers.
Fortunately (or probably unfortunately), the kidnapper wants him to find her and learn all about her. So she can manipulate him into pulling her prison into reality so it can be destroyed.
Isaac is a resourceful guy. His years of research have equipped him for this task. But in order to meet the challenge, he’s going to need his magic back.
When the one person who can grant this wish is killed, who will be able to save the world? And it is the world that is at risk in this book. The other books threatened the secrecy of magic, but now magic is about to be unleashed on innocents.
If you read my review on Goodreads, you’ll see that I found the new leap in libriomancy fascinating, but couldn’t quite swallow that Isaac was the one to wield it. After all, he’d been unable to work magic for months. Wouldn’t his skills have diminished?
This one only earned four out of five stars from me. I enjoyed it, sure, but there were times when I couldn’t suspend my belief. The stretches in imagination were too great and I got kicked out of the story world.
All in all, though, this is my new favorite series. For complexity and ingenuity, the magic system rivals what Brandon Sanderson created in Mistborn. And you know what a fangirl I am for Brandon’s magical imaginings.
And there’s more to come. This will be a series that can continue as long as Hines can come up with new problems that only libriomancy can solve. I’m excited about that.
My bookshelves? Not so much. “It’s getting crowded in here,” they whine.