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The Forbidden Library Hardcover – April 15, 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Forbidden Library Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–7—Alice is sent to live with her Uncle Geryon after her father's ship goes down in a storm. She's never heard of this man and doesn't know what to expect when she arrives at his mansion. The only instruction she is given is to avoid the library. Left to her own devices, she meets a talking cat named Ashes, and Isaac, a boy who challenges her to open a book from the forbidden library. Giving in to temptation, she picks one up, finds herself trapped inside it, and must fight her way out. Along the way, Alice learns about the secrets that surrounded her father and the truth about Uncle Geryon. Every character she meets has a hidden agenda and so she must be careful whom she trusts. Alice questions everything she has been told and has to figure out everyone's motives, ultimately relying on her wits to survive. Each chapter ends on a cliff-hanger, and eerie illustrations enhance the story. This novel is reminiscent of Corneila Funke's Inkheart (Scholastic, 2003) and Neil Gaiman's Coraline (HarperCollins, 2002). Wexler ingeniously creates an inventive world with interesting creatures and frightening situations. The ending will leave children with many questions, as a sequel is strongly implied.—H. Islam, Brooklyn Public Library

From Booklist

Twelve-year-old Alice has always been obedient, studious, and polite. So she is not sure what to do when she sees her father being threatened by a fairy when he has always insisted fairies weren’t real. Before she can ask, he disappears on a business trip, and Alice is sent to a mysterious uncle living in a labyrinthine estate complete with a forbidden library. Like another Alice, she follows a talking cat into the enchanted space in search of answers. It’s a perfect, if traditional, setup, and fans of Harry Potter and Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart (2003) will relish that the library houses magical books, which only Readers can use. After entering a book and defeating the creature therein, and thus harnessing its power, Alice becomes her uncle’s apprentice. It’s a joy to watch the dutiful Alice develop her innate curiosity and become a proactive, resourceful heroine, matching wits with snarky cats, dangerous beasts, and a certain smug boy. This is a charming, adventuresome fantasy from a promising new author. Grades 4-7. --Krista Hutley
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 0920 (What's this?)
  • Series: The Forbidden Library
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books; First Edition edition (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803739753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803739758
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I was a bit disappointed in this book, though it's not bad at all (actually a good read) I was expecting a lot more. I'm very glad that our main character is a determined young girl who is pretty sure of herself and not all on about depending on others to help her figure out who she is or what she wants. I do wish, though, that there had been more going on with the Library itself. The setting was so dark and mysterious! I was certain that as I learned more about the Library I would be surely drawn in to its magic and its whispering shadows.

Not so. The Library was SO dark and mysterious that even the reader never did find out very much about it, other than the fact that there were mysterious magical books, dark creepy corners, moving bookshelves, and a peculiar beastie watching over it all. I could never get a proper minds eye view of what it was like... it just felt dark, dank, and full of musty bookshelves which could occasionally meander.

Despite the YA tag I felt that this was more for the Middlegrade market, though there were some very intense moments (drowning of or otherwise murdering of mythical animals for magical gain for example).

Great new twist on magical individuals being able to enter books for varying purposes. I did find this particular aspect of the story very intriguing, and there seem to be more books coming so I look forward to finding out exactly what's going on with all of the truths and mysteries that were not uncovered in the first work.

Somewhat reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland with the Young Girl (named Alice) following a talking furry animal into the unknown, accidentally stumbling into an alternate world, and coming across an unexpected adventure full of wonderous and dangerous creatures/individuals.
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Format: Hardcover
The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler is a middle-grade story about a girl named Alice who stumbles into a world where reading books literally takes her to new worlds. Unfortunately, those worlds seem to frequently be filled with deadly beasts and the real world with ancient and heartless Readers doesn’t seem all that much better. The Forbidden Library pulled me in the second I saw the first illustration and I can’t wait for the sequel! The ARC I read didn’t actually have all the illustrations either, so I’m planning on buying the finished copy just so that I can go through and see all the ones that I missed; I’m that in love with these illustrations ;-).
Note: I received The Forbidden Library from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on April 15th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Length: 373 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher

Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think it's official: Wexler excels at pretty much any genre he tries his hand at. I was initially curious and maybe a little skeptical as to how he would handle a children's novel, but this book was truly excellent. The author shows his talent and versatility in The Forbidden Library, creating original worlds filled with all kinds of interesting creatures, bringing them to life with such rich and detailed descriptions. I have no doubt adult fans of his epic fantasy will be enchanted by the wonderful creativity and imagination found in here as well.

The story itself is fantastic, and as an avid bibliophile it's hard for me to resist anything to do with libraries or reading about the wonderful books that take us to faraway places. The plot also had enough mystery to keep me constantly guessing; I could never be sure what everybody's motives were. I felt for the main character Alice and her predicament of being suddenly thrust into a strange environment where she couldn't trust anyone, though she was far from helpless and I'm sure she had no need for anyone's sympathy. Courageous and headstrong, Alice is a good role model for young readers, being a take-charge kind of girl who doesn't take obstacles or setbacks lying down.

In some ways, The Forbidden Library was more complex than I would have expected from a middle-grade novel. While it had its fair share of levity (Ashes the talking cat will be a joy to many, for example -- and not just to cat-lovers!), it also had its moments of darkness. Sometimes it's both light and dark at once, as evidenced by the "Swarmers", Alice's horde of bizarre bird-like creatures that have the physical appearance and consistency of a rubber ball with legs.
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