The Last Oracle #1: The Book of Secrets – Melissa McShane

How do I tell you how much I loved this book without spoiling anything for you but give you enough information to convince you that you’ll love it too … Oh, I know!

Magic.

Bookstore.

MAGIC BOOKSTORE!!!

Review endeth here.

Just kidding! Seriously though, those two words would be enough for me to pick up this book! Without giving away anything spoilerish, Helena answers a newspaper advertisement for a job at Abernathy’s Bookstore. Her first day on the job could easily be a contender for the Worst First Day at Work award 🏆 when her boss is murdered before giving her a handover or at least letting her know what her tasks will involve besides using a typewriter (!) to address labels to post the bookstore’s catalogue to customers.

Without having the foggiest idea what signing her employment contract actually means Helena’s life quickly becomes much more interesting, dangerous and bizarre than she could have imagined possible. Thankfully she has her best friend Viv to help with fashion choices, the blind date from hell, and some much needed “No, you’re not crazy. I believe you, girl!” chats.

During Helena’s first week at Abernathy’s she meets a plethora of customers, who range from gossipy curiosity to full blown rage at her appointment as Abernathy’s new custodian. It turns out Helena has stumbled into the middle of a war of the worlds (of sorts) that she knows nothing about.

It’s up to her to try to fast forward her training in a previously unknown magical world, all while dealing with the fallout of the unsolved murder of her boss and a murderer whose identity is a mystery. Some of the people Helena meets at Abernathy’s seem to be trying to help her learn the ropes, others are just waiting for her to fail and Helena doesn’t know who she can trust and whether she’s even the right person for the job.

There are so many characters, magical elements, reasons why Abernathy’s is the coolest bookstore in the history of the universe, plot points and hopes for future books in the series that I’d love to go into detail about but I can’t wreck your experience of this book with spoilers. 🤐 Please trust me when I tell you that there’s so much more to this book than I’ve told you.

I just have to say that I loved the writing, the characters, the mythology and of course, the bookstore, and I can’t wait to read the rest of this series. My favourite characters so far are Viv and Judy; Viv because she’s such a fun character and Judy because I can’t wait to see how her character unfolds throughout the series. Even though this is only the first book I can see this series becoming one of my favourites.

Food I Need in my Life After Reading This Book: Chocopocalypse cake 🍫 🍰 🤤

Melissa McShane, pretty please with an entire Chocopocalypse cake just for you on top, I don’t want to sound desperate – but I’m desperate! I need The Book of Peril in my life urgently. Hmm, what can I do to convince you?! Threaten to go to Abernathy’s and both categorise and alphabetise all of the books? Tell you my augury foretold it magically appearing on my Kindle overnight? Tell the familiars how lovely they look today? 😊

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Curiosity Quills Press for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Helena Davies just wants a job that will get her out of her parents’ basement. Abernathy’s Bookstore is disorganised, out of the way, and smells funny, but it pays well and promises to at least be interesting. She has no idea how interesting her life will become. By the end of the first day, Helena has a dead boss in the basement, an unexpected promotion, and the news that she is now a part of an endless war against creatures from another reality.

As Abernathy’s newest custodian, Helena is responsible for its secrets, including the most important one: Abernathy’s isn’t just a bookstore. It’s the world’s only living oracle, producing prophecies to help fight the war against alien invaders bent on draining this world of its magic. Helena’s job is to find books to answer questions put to the oracle by the Wardens, fighters in the Long War. It seems simple enough, but Helena’s new job is anything but.

She has allies: her best friend Viv, from whom she has no secrets; Harry and Harriet Keller, elderly magi skilled at uncovering secrets; and the enigmatic Malcolm Campbell, warrior magus and one of the few who have faith in Helena’s abilities. But not everyone is thrilled that an outsider now has charge of one of the world’s most powerful magical entities. Helena must defend herself against the antagonism of Judy Rasmussen, who’d expected to be the next custodian of Abernathy’s, and her father William, powerful leader of the Wardens and someone with an agenda of his own.

Without training, without any knowledge of the magical world, and facing the hostility of those who’d wanted someone else to be Abernathy’s custodian, Helena must navigate the treacherous waters of her new world and find a place for herself within it. But there’s still a murderer on the loose, someone who intended to control Abernathy’s by killing its custodian – and Helena might be next on his list.

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