ARC Review: The Left-Handed Booksellers of London #2

The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix

Publication Date: MArch 21, 2023

Summary from NetGalley:

Return to the enchanting world of The Left-Handed Booksellers of London in this sequel by Garth Nix, best selling master of teen fantasy, where once again a team of booksellers must fight to keep dangerous magic undercover before the stuff of legends destroys our world.

There is often trouble of a mythical sort in Bath. The booksellers who police the Old World keep a careful watch there, particularly on the entity that inhabits the ancient hot spring.

This time trouble comes from the discovery of a sorcerous map, leading left-handed bookseller Merlin into great danger, requiring a desperate rescue attempt from his sister, the right-handed bookseller Vivien, and art student Susan Arkshaw, who is still struggling to deal with her own recently discovered magical heritage.

The map takes the trio to a place separated from this world, maintained by deadly sorcery and guarded by monstrous living statues. But this is only the beginning. To unravel the secrets of a murderous Ancient Sovereign, the booksellers must investigate centuries of disappearances and deaths. If they do not stop her, she will soon kill again. And this time, her target is not an ordinary mortal.

ARC provided by HarperCollins via Netgalley for an honest review.


So in case you weren’t paying attention, this is the second book in the series and while there will be no spoilers for this book, there may be some for book one. Sorry it can’t be helped, and you have been warned.

The second book in this wonderful historical urban fantasy is just as much fun as the first one was. I loved being back with the left, right and even handed booksellers of England and all that they get up to. All of my favorite characters from the first book are back and there is a new sinister evil serial killer character that will stop at nothing to kill again.

Susan and Merlin are back, but have mostly slowed down their relationship. Susan is very unsure of her new found powers and is also not sure about continuing her association with the Booksellers. She just wants to live a normal life, and who can blame her. She had a lot to take in and deal with from the last book, and having a romance with Merlin would make anyone’s head spin. Her anxiety is high as the book progresses, but she must help Merlin and the other Booksellers to expose a killer and save some lives, including her own.

I just adore Merlin and his love of having the perfect outfit for every occasion. He to is having a hard time adjusting to his first serious relationship with Susan, but I like that he doesn’t pressure her and he sort of gets how overwhelming everything is for her. He also really takes charge of the situation in this book and works so hard to keep Susan and his sister safe. It was good to see him in such a leadership role.

Vivian and many of the other Booksellers from the first book are back. I loved watching them do research to try to find the killer and why they were doing what they were doing. There is a lot of camaraderie among them, and a good sense of humor. Vivian also steps up and takes a leading role in discovering who is behind the map and why. I really like her and hope to see more of her at some point. I am not so sure that all of the senior Booksellers have Susan’s best interest in mind when they make their decisions and it does worry me a tiny bit.

The pacing and the plot will keep you on the edge of your seat most of the time. Garth Nix really likes to write about everything in detail, like settings, clothing (especially Merlin’s), food, and many other things. I find this to be a good and fascinating aspect of his writing, but there were a couple of times when it seemed to interrupt the flow of the narrative. But I do love the attention to detail. I was also not completely happy with the ending. There seemed to be one scene that was missing between Susan and her father. It was talked about, but I would have liked to actually have seen it.

Overall if you liked the first book, I think you will like this one too. These two books do make a solid duology, and so far there is no indication of more books, but I certainly hope there will be. This is a fun fantasy with lots of great characters and rich in British mythology.


  1. A great review and I definitely agree about there being a bit missing. After the connection with her father coming up so often, it seemed strange not to have the actual meeting although I did love the drama of the actual ending

    Liked by 1 person

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