Book Review: In the House of the Seven Librarians by Ellen Klages

in the house of the seven librarians by ellen klages

Once upon a time, the Carnegie Library sat on a wooded bluff on the east side of town: red brick and fieldstone, with turrets and broad windows facing the trees.

What an absolute delight this book is! A love-letter to libraries written like a fairytale. It is short at a mere 74 pages, however it is candid and warm and shot through with humour. When the library is closed, the seven librarians of the title stock up on tea and biscuits and close the doors from the inside. They stay there, continuing to do their jobs, while around the building the wood grows ever thicker. There is a certain magic at work in them, as there is with anyone who spends their life among books, and perhaps they would have simply gone on forever. Except, one day, there is a baby. Given in lieu of a fine for a vastly overdue copy of Grimm’s fairytales (and her arrival is a wonderful piece of writing!).

So the seven librarians find themselves raising a little girl, among books and the stacks and the break room. A little girl who grows up there, in this slightly wild, slightly alive, library. And really, that’s it. As I said, it is a short book. And it is beautiful. The attention to detail is wonderful; should the kitchen condiments be organised alphabetically? By the Dewey Decimal system? The characters are tangible and a little reminiscent of the books to which they tend. There is a lot in here for wordlovers, and for anyone who’s ever been lost in a library.

Rating: read this book. Go to a library, and read six more books…

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