Reviewed: May 5th 2023
Released: September 6th, 2022
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Format: Audiobook narrated by Marian Hussey
A librarian with a mysterious past, a war hero with a secret, and the heist of a magic painting. THE LIBRARIAN OF CROOKED LANE is an intriguing new fantasy from C.J. Archer, the USA Today bestselling author of the Glass and Steele series.
Librarian Sylvia Ashe knows nothing about her past, having grown up without a father and a mother who refused to discuss him. When she stumbles upon a diary that suggests she’s descended from magicians, she’s skeptical. After all, magicians are special, and she’s just an ordinary girl who loves books. She seeks the truth from a member of the most prominent family of magicians, but she quickly learns that finding the truth won’t be easy, especially when he turns out to be as artless as her, and more compelling and dangerous than books.
War hero Gabe is gifted with wealth, a loving family, and an incredible amount of luck that saw him survive four harrowing years of a brutal war without injury. But not all injuries are visible. Burying himself in his work as a consultant for Scotland Yard, Gabe is going through the motions as he investigates the theft of a magician-made painting. But his life changes when he unwittingly gets Sylvia dismissed from her job and places her in danger.
After securing her new employment in a library housing the world’s greatest collection of books about magic, Gabe and Sylvia’s lives become intwined as they work together to find both the painting and the truth about Sylvia’s past before powerful people can stop them.
But sometimes the past is better left buried…
Helen’s thoughts: 5/5
A beautifully written historial fantasy set in 1920 London. A gentle story with great characters, and although it is not full tilt action, there is plenty going on and the story hooks you and keeps you listening. Sylvia and Gabe are lovely characters, fully developed and very complex they seem ideal for each other.
Sylvia is a mystery. Her family history is unknown and after losing her brother in the war, and her mother to the Spanish flu, she is alone and moves to London to start again. Gabe has survived four years of war physically unscathed, though the mental cost (PTSD) is sympathetically touched upon. Their relationship evolves into friendship and Sylvia develops feelings for Gabe, but he is spoken for, engaged to someone else.
The description of London after the first world war is very well described, the after effects and ramifications on daily life are really interesting and blended with a magical world is a perfect backdrop to the mystery of magical paintings being stolen. Sylvia and Gabe team up to solve the mystery.
Beautifully narrated by Marian Hussey, this story gently unfolds as we learn more about Sylvia and Gabe, and the just as lovable side characters. I loved all the characters and want to read more about them. Although the mystery of the stolen paintings is suitably solved, Gabe’s secret is hinted at but is still unknown, and Sylvia is no further forward in solving her family history, so looking forward to finding out more and their relationship evolving even further in the next book.
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If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my epic fantasy Sentinal series or the Romantic Fantasy SoulMist series. As a new threat against Remargaren is discovered, only one man can wake the ancient guards who can protect them, only he doesn’t know how. Start the adventure and stay for the journey. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next books are published.