A girl is raised in the Dust, in a tiny settlement where nightmares stalk and no-one ever goes.
A boy has lived his whole life trapped in a library, older than empires and larger than cities.
Their stories spiral around each other, across worlds and time.
This is a tale of truth and lies and hearts, and the blurring of one into another. A journey on which knowledge erodes certainty, and on which, though the pen may be mightier than the sword, blood will be spilled and cities burned.
If you’re a reader, you’ll know that books and libraries have a certain magic about them which you might struggle to put into words. Well, Mark Lawrence has found the words.
The Book That Wouldn’t Burn is a love letter to the transformational power of stories. It’s a dense, layered, profound beast of a novel that raises questions about prejudice, war, language, and time itself. But it’s also a very simple story about two souls who find each other in the most unlikely of places.
Evar is trapped in a seemingly endless library with his found-family of siblings, raised by two of the library’s caretakers.
Livira is a girl from beyond the city walls, abducted by savage Sabbers who are dog-like enemies of humans. She’s rescued and returned to the city, where she’ll train to become a librarian.
The first half of the book will have you guessing at what threads are going to link Evar and Livira’s lives. The second half of the book will leave you breathless as those links take shape in unpredictable, original, and mesmerising ways.
There’s a magical quality about the writing itself. It’s meaningful. It’s descriptive. However much you’ll want to rush through it to find out what happens next, if you take the time to savour this book, then you’re sure to find it very satisfying. I loved the lush descriptions of the library itself, and the many quirks which make it such a unique setting.
In terms of comparisons, it’s difficult to liken it to anything else that’s out there. But if the sound of Romeo and Juliet crossed with The Magicians Nephew (Narnia) sprinkled with a dash of The Midnight Library appeals to you, and you wrap all that in a time-bending, multiverse-spanning narrative that reaches Tolkien-esque scales of epic (imagine if Middle-Earth were a library) then you’ll adore this book. When I was younger, I used to enjoy watching The Pagemaster — a movie about a kid who gets transported into a fantastical library where books come to life to guide him through a labyrinth of shelves, and with the help of Fantasy, Adventure, and Horror, he can overcome his fears. The Book That Wouldn’t Burn is the closest thing I’ve seen to a grown up version of that. It’s the definitive example of literary fantasy.
Do you have a favourite book? A book that changed your life? That reached into your heart and transformed the way you saw the world? If so, then you’ll appreciate the beauty of The Book That Wouldn’t Burn. You’ll feel like a part of this world. You’ll connect with it. And the chances are that you’ll absolutely love it.
This is a story for book-lovers that makes the magic of books tangible. It’s a timeless odyssey that belongs on every shelf. Your library is not complete without it.