Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday #Review - The Book of Secrets by Melissa McShane #Fantasy

Series: The Last Oracle # 1
Format: E-Book, 192 pages
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Fantasy

Helena Davies just wants a job that will get her out of her parents’ basement. Abernathy’s Bookstore is disorganized, out of the way, and smells funny, but it pays well and promises to be interesting. She has no idea how interesting. By the end of the first day, Helena has a dead boss in the basement, an unexpected promotion, and the news that she is now a part of an endless war against creatures from another reality.
As Abernathy’s newest custodian, Helena is responsible for its secrets, including the most important one: Abernathy’s isn’t just a bookstore. It’s the world’s only living oracle, producing prophecies to help fight the war against alien invaders bent on draining this world of its magic. Helena’s job is to find books to answer questions put to the oracle by the Wardens, fighters in the Long War. It seems simple enough, but Helena’s new job is anything but.
Without training, without any knowledge of the magical world, and facing the hostility of those who’d wanted someone else to be Abernathy’s custodian, Helena must navigate the treacherous waters of her new world and find a place for herself within it. But there’s still a murderer on the loose, someone who intended to control Abernathy’s by killing its custodian—and Helena might be next on his list.

The Book of Secrets is the first installment in author Melissa McShane's The Last Oracle series. This is a brand new series from the author. I first became aware of the authors work through her series called The Extraordinaries which I am looking forward to continuing. McShane's new world is a curious one. It is a world in which our protagonist, Helena Davies, walks in for an interview at Abernathy's, and gets hired by the mysterious Nathaniel Briggs on the spot. Abernathy's does business via phone calls, order forms, catalog trade, and in person. 

After Nathaniel is found dead, a curious thing happens. Helena inherits the bookstore as custodian. Of course, this leads to all sorts of questions. Why did Nathaniel hire someone with no experience, and no knowledge of what Abernathy's really is? Will Helena be able to do the job she's supposed to be paid fairly well for, or will she have to abdicate to someone else? It's obvious that Nathaniel had no reason to believe that he would die any time soon, but the questions still continue right until the very end at why Helena was chosen over someone who has had previous training.

There are also questions regarding the war which has been ongoing for 700 years. There are creatures who come from somewhere outside our reality. Nightmareland creatures want the magic that humans are born with, but only a few have access to. As a custodian like Lucia Pontafelli who becomes a support mechanism in all of Helena's questions and circumstances she finds herself in, she can also see through glamour and what the monsters actually look like. Wardens like Malcolm Campbell, who is predicted to become Helena's romance buddy, fight and die every day in order to protect this world from the monsters that invade our world.

Abernathy is also a weapon in that it gives out answers at how to fight the long war. It is expected to treat each side (Nicollien & Ambrosite) as equals regardless of personal feelings. Abernathy's runs on what's called indeterminacy. Abernathy is never organized by author, title, or subject. By never being organization, no one actually knows what is in here, therefore anything can be in here. While Helena is learning all about her new function in life, there's those pesky police detectives who truly believe that Helena is involved in some way even though they have zero evidence of actually accusing her of doing evil. Thankfully, Helena does have a bit of relief in her best friend Viv.  

There are times the synopsis is perhaps a bit too revealing at what happens in this book. This is one of those cases. So, let me highlight the more interesting aspects. First, Helena isn't a member of the cast of the Librarian, but she is being compared to Flynn. Second, Abernathy's isn't a Library, it's a living oracle, and the greatest of its kind since the disappearance of the Lady at Delphi. People come into Abernathy's with questions, and it is up to the custodian to find the answers given by the oracle. Sometimes those answers are not what the person wants to hear. 

Abernathy's is a place that takes both money and magic in payment for augery's. Custodians of Neutralities can't use magic or ask questions on their own behalf. However, many custodians like Helena have abilities bestowed on them by the virtue of their position as custodian. This is not a standalone, although you might think it was after everything is said and done. I would love to have the author dig deeper when it comes to Silas Abernathy. I think there is a fountain of information just waiting to be revealed.

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