Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Left-Handed Booksellers of London” as Want to Read:
The Left-Handed Booksellers of London
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  4,220 ratings  ·  896 reviews
A girl’s quest to find her father leads her to an extended family of magical fighting booksellers who police the mythical Old World of England when it intrudes on the modern world. From the bestselling master of teen fantasy, Garth Nix.

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
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published September 22nd 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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)
Shima It reads like a stand-alone with the potential for the author to come back to at some point in the future.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,220 ratings  ·  896 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Left-Handed Booksellers of London
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, netgalley, fantasy, 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
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
Flora⁷ ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ
Nov 17, 2019 marked it as to-read
i'm a simple bookseller, i see the word "bookseller" in the title and i add it to my wishlist. ...more
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
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
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
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Helena of Eretz ✰
I received this complimentary ARC from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
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
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
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
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
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
Laura ☾
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.

Ellery Adams
Oct 07, 2020 rated it liked it
A fun, action-packed adventure.
The Captain
Oct 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
"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
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
Ashlee » Library In The Country
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
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!
Kasey Connors-Beron
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
The Nerd Daily
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Stuart McCarthy
Nov 08, 2020 rated it liked it
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
Laura Snider
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lots of action, magic, adventure, & London. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story so much. I may be a little biased, having been a left-handed bookseller from London for a few years, but I thought this was a great idea for a dark fantasy adventure. My experience of booksellers being that they are extremely resourceful and usually very knowledgable would make them ideal guardians against intrusions from other realms. The story itself was an entertaining mystery drawing on some folklore from across the British Isles. The style was very much along the lines of ...more
Jul 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs
My rating: 2.5/5 Stars

I won an ARC of this book from the BookConline giveaway - all thoughts are my own. Thank you to both BookCon and Harper Collins for providing me with this ARC.

You know that TikTok of the girl who’s reading Twilight and points out Stephanie Meyer’s “thing” with the phrase “he chuckled?” Well, Garth Nix definitely has a “thing” in this book, or rather, two “things.”

First being the ellipses. My god, there are so. Many. Ellipses. TOO MANY! There was absolutely no need for that
Oct 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Garth Nix. ✅
I have a soft spot for heroines named Susan. ✅✅
Books about people who also love books. ✅✅✅
The Left Handed Booksellers of London follows Susan Arkshaw as she goes looking for her absent father and discovers more than she bargained for. Nix roots his magic and myth within the real world, albeit the 1980s, a weird and wonderful period of time when boys dressed as girls and girls dressed as boys and everyone wore as much eye makeup as they possibly could.
The fashion choices of ev
It's probably a good thing - a sign that my tastes are getting more sophisticated as I grow up - but nothing Garth Nix has written recently has come close to reaching the pinnacle that was The Keys to the Kingdom when I was in primary school.

There's some interesting stuff in here, for sure: I love the alt!London setting and all the little nods to and dry jokes about British culture in the 1980s. My absolute favourite line? "Susan hadn't really thought about it before, but Merlin had a kind of po
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)
  • Me
  • Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park, #1)
  • The Glass Hotel
  • Dominicana
  • A Deadly Education (The Scholomance, #1)
  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
  • Fantastic Tales of Nothing
  • The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage, #3)
  • Set Fire to the Gods (Set Fire to the Gods, #1)
  • The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)
  • The War Widow (Billie Walker Mystery, #1)
  • Clap When You Land
  • The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
  • The Upside of Falling Down
  • For Better or For Wolf (Paranormal Wedding Planners Book 4)
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #1)
See similar books…
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.


Articles featuring this book

As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
81 likes · 21 comments
“There was John Masefield’s The Box of Delights; and the C. S. Lewis Narnia books; and Patricia Lynch’s The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey; The Winter of Enchantment by Victoria Walker; Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken; several of Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels, including Susan’s favorite, The Silver Branch; Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones; The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner; Five Children and It by E. Nesbit; and many others.” 0 likes
“too many fantasy novels” 0 likes
More quotes…