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The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  7,773 ratings  ·  1,491 reviews
In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn’t get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin.

Merlin is a young left-handed bookseller (one of t
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 22nd 2020 by Allen & Unwin
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Popular Answered Questions
Shima It reads like a stand-alone with the potential for the author to come back to at some point in the future.
Shima The protagonist is a girl, the love interest is a guy (or potentially gender-fluid), who is considering switching genders at some point in the future …moreThe protagonist is a girl, the love interest is a guy (or potentially gender-fluid), who is considering switching genders at some point in the future but in the meanwhile enjoys wearing suits and dresses in equal measures (and none of this is ever presented as a barrier to them dating now or in the future). That being said, I'd say the relationship is pretty peripheral to the story and isn't the main focus at all. (less)

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  7,773 ratings  ·  1,491 reviews

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Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, mystery, netgalley, ya
Garth Nix's period action packed fantasy set in London in 1983 is a light, fun and entertaining novel featuring Susan Arkshaw, recently turned 18 years old, moving to London to become a art student. Until the course begins, she is intent on searching for her father, about whom she knows little, with her mother, Jassmine, giving her barely any information as to his identity. Life becomes considerably more challenging and dangerous when she witnesses left handed bookseller, Merlin St Jacques, usin ...more
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021-reads
Sometimes all you need is a fun, warm and lighthearted story just to give you a few happy reading hours. And no, I probably won’t remember much about this book a few weeks from now — but as far as YA-type reads go, for me this was one of the better ones.
You’re gotta admit, the title - The Left-Handed Booksellers of London - is brilliant. For me, there was that title callback to Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. It got that wonderful quirky book-y allure — I mean, we all know that book readers
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
3.5 stars. A very different type of fantasy (more of a British urban fantasy) from Garth Nix than the last one of his that I read, Angel Mage. Review first posted on

1983-era London, with a half-twist toward the fantastic, mingles with ancient British mythology in Garth Nix’s new urban fantasy, The Left-Handed Booksellers of London. Art student Susan Arkshaw, a punkish eighteen-year-old from rural western England, takes leave of her loving, vague mother and heads to London
Katherine Arden
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy
I was a gigantic fan of Sabriel/Lirael/Abhorsen growing up, and so naturally I jumped on this fast, exciting read when it popped up somewhere in my timeline.

Has strong vibes of Gaiman's Neverwhere, in my view, with a mythical London existing in and around and behind the real one. Except in this version, magical booksellers keep the borders between the real world and the (fascinating, dangerous) mythical one. I read this book in one sitting.
fulfilling my 2020 goal to read (at least) one book each month that was given to me as a present that i haven't yet gotten around to reading because i am an ungrateful dick.

review to come!


this BARELY counts, since it is a present from THIS YEAR'S gr secret santa, but i'm getting a head start on not being a dick in 2021, yeah?

thank you, samantha!!

left-handed booksel
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2021
I read this on the strength of the title alone and I am very glad I did. It was funny, it was clever and it was totally entertaining.

The setting is a slightly alternate London in the 1980's. Margaret Thatcher is Prime Minister but she is Britain's second woman PM. The first was Clementina Attlee. Nix has a lot of fun with gender throughout the book which will bring a smile to anyone old enough to have watched the TV shows of the day (for example Denise Waterman in The Sweeney).

I thought Nix ha
Rebecca Roanhorse
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a lot of fun. It doesn't have a lot of depth, but it's a delightful romp through British legend and folklore and I enjoyed it as a light but occasionally surprisingly violent and suspenseful adventure story. The premise was great, and that title, yeah. I was sold. It's plot forward, not a lot of characterization or world building beyond the series of dangers the characters face, often in a row like a gauntlet. It would have been nice to have a little more cause and effect in the first h ...more
Mar 05, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rtc, dnf
I can't do this anymore. I'm bored out of my mind.
review to come
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020
I really, really liked this book! I feel like the blurb is great at explaining what it's about and illustrates the general vibe quite well, so if it sounds interesting to you, I'd say go for it, 'cause it delivers! For me, this book had just the right amount of whimsy, magic, and humor. Any setting other than current times will do as far as I'm concerned, but I found 80's London to be especially vibrant and fascinating. I also loved the characters, especially the right-handed Vivien, and I rea ...more
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
It's a 1983 that's kinda different from actual 1983, but not by much? Either way, Susan Arkshaw is off to London to find her father, who she has never met. After her first lead goes way south, she stumbles into Merlin, a left-handed bookseller who topples her head-first into the world of magic, monsters and nefarious plots to gain power. Somehow, Susan as at the center of it all. She just has to find her father first.

After reading the absolutely abysmally plotted and paced Angel Mage, I was walk
Booksellers are magical, didn't you know? They are not just there to defend the world against ignorance by supplying us with books, but they're also ready and willing to defend us against goblins, vampires, and other eldritch creatures! Or so Garth Nix says, and I am inclined to believe him.

And here, in this shocking expose, we see Susan Arkshaw, a young woman who has come to London to try and find the father she has never met. Unfortunately, there are other forces out to find Susan, and so to
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"If you see another scarecrow, don't look directly at it."
Boy, did this story have all manner of mythical beasties who were chasing after our main character Susan for reasons unknown. I really wanted to like this quirky book. It has heroic booksellers who are the only ones who live in the modern world (1983) but can see and fight the paranormal beings of old. The main character was a bit of a dud for me, she just sort of went along with everything as it happen
Helena Paris
I received this complimentary ARC from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
3.5 stars, rated up for an overall enjoyable read.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London gets right into the action almost from the start - we're given an introductory prologue, but then we're up and running even from the first sentence of the first chapter, into a world of booksellers and the secrets they guard. Dropped unaware into that world is Susan, future art student and newly arrived in London, and it's up to Merlin, bookseller and generally rakish individual, to make sure she doesn't fall
Oct 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
DNF at 30%. It feels like such a slog that I'm not interested in pushing through. Based on the premise I should have loved this book, but it's a lot like The Starless Sea- really wonderful idea but terrible execution. It's weird and not in an enjoyable or humorous way.

The writing style is simply not enjoyable. Other reviewers have brought up the excessive amount of ellipses that result in stilted and unnatural dialogue, and interrupt the flow of reading. Added to this is the unbelievable fact t
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, netgalley
Garth Nix's The Left-Handed Booksellers of London is one of those young adult novels that easily makes the crossing to adult reading. Set in a version of 1983 London, where the worlds of the ordinary and the magical, the present and ages past, overlap. The Left-Handed Booksellers of London follows the journey of Susan Arkshaw, 18 and about to begin art school, on a hunt for a father she's never known, as she's flung into the dangers of that magical world in the space of a few hours.

What makes th
TS Chan
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-review-copy
ARC received from the publisher, Gollancz, in exchange for an honest review.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London was an enjoyable urban fantasy romp in an alternate 1980s-London which left me wanting more from this clever and fascinating world of magical secret service booksellers.

I had mixed experiences with Garth Nix's books so far. While I enjoyed Sabriel and the following two books in the Old Kingdom series, I had a much less encouraging response to his last book, Angel Mage, which felt mo
Kasey Connors-Beron
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
I received a physical ARC of THE LEFT-HANDED BOOKSELLERS OF LONDON through a giveaway hosted by BookCon.

This was a rough one for me to get through, which I am really upset to say because the concept is great. I pictured it being like The Librarians, which I LOVED! But it was nothing like it at all.

It was truly remarkable that an entire book could be written in a tell, not show way and still get published. It was very much like “this happened, then that happened, and oh yeah that too”, which ke
Laura ☾
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.25 stars

“No sorcerer can compare
For such magic strange and rare
As in the glov’d bookseller’s lair
But secrets, nay, they will not share"

This kind of felt a bit like Neverwhere mixed with A Sorcery of Thorns - and I enjoyed it very much! Set in the 80s in basically the world we know, there are different ‘worlds’ layered on top of each other exist, ours being the newest. Sometimes these worlds intersect and something slips through the layers, wherein the ones tasked with keeping the peace a
The Captain
Oct 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys!  It be no secret that I adore Garth Nix.  He was the first author featured in me Broadside No. 1 and I have re-read the Old Kingdom series many times over the years.  So I was super happy to finally read his newest standalone book.

I have to admit that this be different in what I was expecting.  It does not have Nix's usual complex world building or characterization.  The beginning was a bit rough in the sense that the main character, Susan, has no idea what is going on and
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading The Left-Handed Booksellers of London was probably some of the most fun I had throughout 2020. It didn't turn into one my favourite books, but it let me escape the real world and fly away into an alternative London.

This book is good, light-hearted fun with plenty of humour, and likeable protagonists. It's easy entertainment, basically written for a year where everything is so terrible all you want to do is give gifts to your animal neighbours living on an island inside your Switch.

Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
First Addie, then the Cerulean Sea, and now the Booksellers??? 2020 might be a shit year but damn the books have been BRILLIANT.

A solid 5 stars for this gem.

Still angry it’s not a series though.
Ellery Adams
A fun, action-packed adventure.
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up. The first half was excellent but the second half lost its way a bit. A good light hearted caper with a great setting in reference to the eighties as much as the world of magic!
Ashlee » libraryinthecountry
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so much fun!! I loved every second of it.

In this alternate 1983 London, Susan Arkshaw is trying to find out who her father is and stumbles into a world of demons, magical creatures and gods. With her on this adventure is Merlin, a left handed bookseller (one of the fighting ones) and his sister Vivien a right handed bookseller (the intellectual ones).

I loved these characters so much, especially Merlin with all his eccentricities and his gender nonconforming way of dressing! Every
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, fantasy
Readers follows the journey of Susan Arkshaw, an 18-year old country raised girl, about to begin art school in London. She has come early to search for a father she's never known, with a mother, who has been vague about him. While visiting Uncle Frank, a notorious gangster, she sees him killed by a silver pin, and is immersed in the dangers of the world of magic. Susan is drawn to the handsome Merlin St. Jacques (a left handed bookseller) and his twin sister, Vivien (a right handed bookseller), ...more
Stuart McCarthy
More 3.5. I feel like this book had so much potential that wasn't fully explored. I was left with questions about the magic system and the world that I really wanted answered that weren't. ...more
The Nerd Daily
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Anuska G

Badass booksellers who double as somewhat super mysterious secret agents that keep creatures straight out of old myths in check and casually save the world on a regular basis. That’s basically what the latest fantasy from Garth Nix, The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, is about. If that sounds even remotely awesome to you, trust me, you want to read this book immediately.

Read the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily
Laura Snider
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of action, magic, adventure, & London. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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Garth Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia, to the sound of the Salvation Army band outside playing 'Hail the Conquering Hero Comes' or possibly 'Roll Out the Barrel'. Garth left Melbourne at an early age for Canberra (the federal capital) and stayed there till he was nineteen, when he left to drive around the UK in a beat-up Austin with a boot full of books and a Silver-Reed typewriter.


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