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The Absolute Book

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  170 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Taryn Cornick believes that the past is behind her her sisters death by violence, and her own ill-conceived revenge. She has chosen to live a life more professional than personal. She has written a book about the things that threaten libraries insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring. The book is a success, but not all of the attention it brings her is good. ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published September 2019 by Victoria University Press (first published 2019)
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Blair I don't know the answer to your question, but if you're interested in the book, it appears you can purchase a physical copy from Victoria University…moreI don't know the answer to your question, but if you're interested in the book, it appears you can purchase a physical copy from Victoria University Press for about $27 USD (at least, that's the price of $45 NZ converted to USD I see in my cart) at I'd see if you can ship it to your country, if you'd like a book.

If you'd prefer an ebook, it's available at for about $17.99 NZ (about $12 USD). This is the option I chose. I used PayPal, and opted to let my credit card company do the currency conversion. I'd imagine you'd have an easy time doing this in other countries, too.(less)

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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  170 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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* 2.5 *

Review disclaimer* - This is my first time reading Elizabeth Knox and my relationship with fantasy is often tenuous. The Absolute Book is good, nay, excellent in many respects but I am not it's most ideal reader. With that said lets carry on ...

I picked this book up ignorant of the fact that it was fantasy, which in hindsight seems like poor research on my part but actually probably worked out well. I was gently lulled into a fantasy/ crime /cyberterrorism/ Da Vinci Code melange and
The Absolute Book is an esoteric, often maddening, epic fantasy that is ultimately rooted in contemporary concerns. It really defies summation but what were dealing with here is an ode to stories, language, and libraries that takes the form of a quest/portal fantasy and incorporates a kitchen sinks worth of myths and legends from Celtic, Judeo-Christian, Norse, ancient Greek traditions and more.

The human protagonist, Taryn, is a successful author dealing with the fallout of her sisters murder
Arielle Walker

Don't really have words for this one - I think I need to read it again.

There are points where everything blurs out of focus, and I found myself skipping back a few pages quite often to work out if I'd missed something (sometimes I had, sometimes I hadn't and the explanation was to come, sometimes I hadn't and the explanation never came). Sometimes I just wanted to grab the narrative and swing it sideways to focus on something lurking just out of sight at the edges of the pages. Something
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My review of The Absolute Book first posted on Facebook July 29th:

I have just finished reading an Advanced Proof Copy Of Elizabeth Knoxs new fantasy novel, The Absolute Book!
A couple of days ago, I posted about the bliss found in a beautifully turned phrase. The Absolute Book is 650 pages of beautifully turned phrases. This is a master craftswomans work.
Things that happen:
Knox weaves together a fairytale narrative steeped in myth and religion with a gritty, modern day murder mystery. Taryn is a
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
She felt as if shed dropped something and, were she to stoop to retrieve it, things would pass over her head. Things like Edgar Allan Poes pendulum, the planes that flew into the Twin Towers, the howling Chelyabinsk meteor, and the angel of death. Stop and tie your shoe, Taryn, said a voice in her head. You have work to do, Taryn. Walk away. Taryns shoes were closed-toe, open-waisted sandals with buckles, not laces. [loc. 465]

It starts in a library, with two sisters witnessing attempted arson.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
OMG! This book is incredible. It's big but super fast-paced, very intelligent. Loved it.
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Elizabeth Knox is a wonderful writer, and I'm not sure if anyone else could have created or written such a strange book. "The Absolute Book" takes place in a number of different intertwined realities. It is described by the author as an arcane thriller, a quest and a personal journey about revenge. But I feel as if I missed a key piece of information, because the story felt stilted and tangential. There were so many wonderfully descriptive sentences that led to a seemingly pointless piece of ...more
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it
I loved the first half of this and couldn't put it down... But the ending lost me.
Elizabeth Knox is one of my favourite authors, mixing gritty realism with fantasy and unique imagination, so I bought this for myself for Christmas and saved it to read on holiday and stayed up to finish it last night...
I'm just kind of stumped by the epilogue. It felt very tacked-on and the ending very rushed. There was a lot left unsaid between the lines, which always frustrates me in a book. I hate when an
Taylor  Adair
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book, there was something comforting and disconcerting about it all at once. I like the way it swung through genres, and the world building was excellent. I felt like there was a bigger plot twist I was waiting for that never came, and it probably ended too neatly for my liking but thats just a matter of personal taste.

Very proud to claim Elizabeth Knox as a fellow Kiwi ❤
Carolyn DeCarlo
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I think this book will stick with me for a very long time as my understanding of it changes and grows with its digestion. Shift is a new favourite literary character, and Aeng, Neve, and the other Sidhe are a fascinating race. There were incongruities in the pacing of this novel that I felt did not serve the development of these characters and their world(s). I hope very much for a future book from Elizabeth Knox with more focus on the demons and Hell. Not a light or easy read but beautifully ...more
this is so much, and I need to reread it, but Elizabeth Knox thinks her readers are very smart which is, on the whole, a good thing even though there was probably a lot going on that I (an Idiot) did not percieve
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-sjv
Its big. Its chunky. But it doesn't really drag. It doesn't take long before you're through the wardrobe and into fairyland, and that stuff is fascinating. And along the way, there's snark about writers festivals and Big Fantasy TV Shows. While it didn't make my Hugo cutoff, I'll happily nominate it for the Vogels - its a worthy contender in that pool.
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matthew Sampson
An epic fantasy from a New Zealand author about books and libraries. I anticipated a perfect match. Unfortunately the libraries and books do not feature prominently, and the story I got instead was fascinating but left a sour taste in my mouth.

Did not fill my soul as I had hoped. Withholding a recommendation.
Mar 21, 2020 rated it liked it
If I rated this book purely based on my enjoyment of the reading experience it would be more like a 2. But I do think that the book is well-crafted. The writing is quite lovely in places and there's some real amazing craftsmanship that I can get behind... maybe I even would have dug this if it were half as long.

I placed a hold on The Absolute Book through the library back in early January (note that it's taken me a couple of months to get to) because I saw someone mention it as being "really
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, adult, fiction
I purchased this book after reading an article from Slate ( extolling this book's virtues. After I already promised myself I wouldn't buy any books I didn't first read from the library this year.

This is a big book (and not just in size). After I've finished, I realize the first read-through doesn't do this book justice. I'll have to re-read it in the future to better understand how everything is connected, how the events relate, what I missed the first
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing

I read a review of this book and was like, well, I need to read THAT, and promptly ordered it from New Zealand. At first, the story feels like a traditional mystery--the protagonist's sister is murdered, but the killer is convicted of manslaughter and only serves five years, and the protagonist encourages an acquaintance to take revenge. Now it's several years later, and her best-selling book has thrust her into the limelight--and brought a detective
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whoooo this story felt longer than 656 pages but not in a bad way. One of those fantasy type books that catches you in a strong web and holds you captive until you finish reading. Kept finding myself wanting to leave work early to go home and read.

Not a lighthearted story by any means, but an enjoyable story. Definitely not what I was expecting from this book and yet it all worked.

The writing flowed well, the story had nice form and I would recommend this to anyone who needs to lose track of
Delway Burton
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
A mess of a book. Knox is an excellent writer. Her turns of phrase and metaphors are wonderful. However, plot-wise the book is a mish-mash of unexplained, almost incoherent, balderdash. The magic is arbitrary, the fantasy being a tru-the -looking glass structure, where alternative realities come and go from one paragraph to another. I think Ill forego the sequel. ...more
Jill Heather
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a lovely meandering book that's more than a little wordy. But I enjoyed just being in the book with the characters and the various locations in it.

The ending feels decidedly unearned, like it changed the levels on which everything was being planned.
Mar 18, 2020 is currently reading it
Shelves: to-be-reviewed
I'm not done with the book yet (about 2/3 through), but I wanted to take a moment to thank Darrin for picking me up a copy on his recent trip to NZ. THANKS DARRIN! (not sure he'll read this, but whatever). So far, I'm really enjoying it. More to come...
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked the way the text started. The writing was strong, and the story felt like a cross between Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. I thought that it got a little soft at the end, and a bit too Fairy tale ending for me.
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book.
Fiona Mackie
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A complex, brain challenging read, but I expect nothing less from Elizabeth Knox. Would love to have this at our school library but have no idea how to sell it!
lucy  black
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
Such strong imagery and original ideas.
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is really a 4.5 star for me, I rounded up instead of down. I loved the book but felt a little let down by the epilogue
Amanda Patchin
Mar 10, 2020 rated it liked it
A complicated and intriguing book but frustrating. I like obscurities but this was missing a few too many stitches. Still, enjoyable.
Lee Schlesinger
An original story, with fairies and villains. Reminiscent of John Crowley's Little, Big.
Chris F
As always Elizabeth Knox is a great read. I did feel that the ending was a little bit too neatly tied up for my linking though, which stopped it from being 5 stars for me.
William Sedlack
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are no words for how good and rich this book is. I will be rereading this many times for years to come.
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Elizabeth Knox was born in Wellington New Zealand and is the author of eleven novels and three novella and a book of essays.


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