I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. on April 15th 2014
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Just a little story about your average sword-swinging, karate-chopping, crime-fighting ninja librarians.
Dorrie Barnes had no idea an overdue library book would change her life. When Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase her pet mongoose into the janitor's closet of their local library, they accidentally fall through a passage into Petrarch's Library -the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians who have an important mission: protect those whose words have gotten them into trouble. Anywhere in the world and at any time in history.
Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society. But when a traitor surfaces, she and her friends are the prime suspects. Can they clear their names before the only passage back to the twenty-first century closes forever?
The Ninja Librarians is a book I had to pick up out of pure curiosity, being a librarian myself, I wanted to see what adventures it held for me as a reader. Dorrie is the main character, a girl who loves to take part in fake swordplay but finds that all this training will not help her in the real world. When a friend’s mongoose gets loose, Dorrie finds herself and her brother Marcus chasing it wildly through the library and into a new section they have never been. Before they know it, they are pulled into another world, one of Lybrarians.
What they find is Petrarch’s Library, a place where Lybrarians are trained and then sent out into their different time periods to collect important documents that may have been lost. With such figures as Socrates and Cyrano de Bergerac as characters, it makes for an engaging read. The siblings are suspected to be part of a different organization that is looking to destroy the Library’s work and turn history for their own gain, which makes their time at Petrarch’s Library a bit trying at first as no one is sure they are telling the truth about how they got there.
I love the elements of this book, the actual Petrarch’s library, the different historical characters, and especially the times when they slip into another time period. I love the idea of ninja librarians and keyhands and being able to stride into different time periods. Dorrie was a great character in that she knew she didn’t have certain skills, but strode to acquire them throughout the novel. I love how the book puts into perspective how trivial some of Dorrie’s concerns were at the beginning of the book as opposed to the end, which only furthers her development as a character.
I found The Accidental Keyhand to be a great start to the Ninja Librarians series and I cannot wait for the next volume, as this one leaves off on a bit of a cliffhanger. I’m looking forward to seeing where and when Dorrie and Marcus will have to go on their next adventure.
About the Author:
Jen Swann Downey’s nonfiction pieces have appeared in New York Magazine, The Washington Post, Women’s Day, and other publications. She’s never visited a library in which she didn’t want to spend the night. Jen lives in Charlottesville, VA with her family.
Author Guest Post
As a book-loving child, I regarded librarians with a strange kind of awe (and our local library as a sort of magical palace, stuffed with a dragon’s hoard worth of riches). Librarians were the keepers of all this treasure, and as such, mysterious and powerful custodians. There always seemed to be more to them than met the eye! Something secret and well-intended and unadvertised. Something underestimated, devoted, and heroic. My opinion didn’t change as an adult, as I began to understand that literacy, information and literature often occupied contested territory! It was easy and fun to imagine librarians – professional book protectors, literacy encouragers, and privacy champions — as literal warriors, with swords as well as shortish pencils in their arsenals.