The Book That Wouldn’t Burn is the first book in the Library trilogy by Mark Lawrence. Released 9th May 2023 by Penguin Random House on their Berkley Ace imprint, it's 576 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is a really outstandingly well written epic adventure with a beating heart and brains as well as a heaping helping of adventure. There have been a number of stories-as-reality-shaping-tools written over the years and it's been a strong subgenre in speculative fiction. The library and guardians of the stories have a tender and precious place in the minds of many (most?) SF fans, a great number of whom were bookish young kids who felt safe and protected at their local library.
This isn't a children's book, but readers may well hearken back to their own discoveries and growth in SF and transportive literature. It's told in a dual third person PoV between Evar, who lives in the vast library, and Livira, a young girl living in a desolate landscape outside the walls which is called The Dust. The PoV alternates throughout, but the chapters are labeled and the voices are so different as to be impossible to mistake for one another.
Again, although it is emphatically *not* a children's book, there are flashes of Narnia and other crossrealm fantasy works. It's not derivative, but it does occupy some of the same real estate.
Five stars. This is an important, classic, and despite the "buzz" very well written fantasy.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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