Mr Hardbattle's dusty old bookstore is having a harder and harder time staying in business, mainly because of The Smell. To Mr Hardbattle, it smells like manure, but other patrons have complained of other odors. He consults Mrs Trinket, who solemnly informs him that he has an infestation of magic because he has provided a perfect environment for it to flourish. It could be remedied easily enough, with a good clean out and lots of vacuuming, but since magic is such a rare commodity, Mr Hardbattle sits tight for ten years, until he finds out that his rent is going to go up. Luckily, at about this time he meets young Arthur and Miss Quint, who both believe him about the magic and want to help. While Mr Hardbattle goes to look for a new home for the magic, he leave Miss Quint in charge of the store. Things go well at first, until she becomes bored and summons a vast quantity of book characters to life. Some are not bad (the young Susan, who becomes very dear to both Arthur and Miss Quint), but others go too far afield in their quest for amusement and cause massive problems in the bookstore and in the village. Can Mr Hardbattle send the characters back where they belong, and preserve both his business and the magic?
Strengths: I heard about this one from Charlotte at Charlotte's Library, so I was sure to like it. Aside from teaching Latin at Eton College, I think that running a dusty old bookshop in a small English village would be the best job ever. This is perfect for fans of Edward Eager, Diana Wynne Jones' more realistic books, and anyone in need of a slightly old-fashioned, gently magical read.
Weaknesses: My students would rather read about murder. Or football. Or some combination of the two. *Sigh* It's hard to get students to read a book where this much tea is consumed! (I adore that about British books. There would be PG Tips in my bookstore, and a nice assortment of biscuits, too. I could continue to wear my pleated skirts and warm wool sweaters. There could be an impressive apidistra. I'd have a pair of small Yorkshire terriers (Named Ottmar and Johannes. Or Buckram and Vellum.) instead of a cat.)
I'm sorry. Was this supposed to be a book review instead of a lapse into my own fantasy world?
From the Publisher: "After fourteen-year-old Nick makes enemies of his friends for refusing to mug an innocent tourist, he takes up with Kyrian of Thrace, a vampire slayer and Dark-Hunter who introduces Nick to a dangerous world where he must find strength within himself to survive battles with demons. "
I mention this book because I keep picking up ones in this series, and always come to the same conclusion-- I just can't buy it. It's just too young adult, somehow. Since no one else in my district has a copy of any of these, I don't feel too bad. Picked it up this last time because a student requested it. The books always sound good, and certainly the font and design say "middle school", but there's something just... vulgar about them. We'll see.