GoodReads): Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.
With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .
And here's what I thought: So where do I start? So many wonderful things to mention about this book --- like a totally awesome librarian who has magical powers .... and his fire-spider ..... and the dryad who shows up at his door ..... and did I mention the magic? And did I say Isaac is a librarian? Extra bonus points for that (speaking as a Librarian). This book is a completely fun ride, where there are twists and turns, and dark tunnels, and every so often, you wish you could know what was coming (so you'd know how to react), but you hang on and love every minute. Yeah, it's like that (and hopefully, that made sense).
I've read some of Jim Hines' books before, most notably his Stepsister Scheme books .... and I have to say, I think this is his best book yet. Not only does he create interesting characters, but he spins a wonderful tale. Think about the magical power he creates here: Libriomancers can reach into any book and pull out objects .... really awesome objects, like the healing potion in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, for example, or the "eat me" cakes from Alice in Wonderland. Personally, as a child, I was more fascinated with what Turkish Delight might be .... I had no idea and was always curious about it. Isaac can also pull out magic weapons, which comes in handy when he's attacked at his library by some vampires. And speaking of vampires .... imagine that some of the different types of vampires came out of their books (thinking of all the vampire-book-writing authors I know of, that's quite the variety). Hines doesn't just give us a great story, but he also gives us wonderfully written, interesting, multi-dimensional characters. Yes, characters --- the other characters, like Lena (the dryad), and even Smudge, have backgrounds, and dimension. It's really refreshing, especially with a female character like Lena, who not only kicks ass, but is pretty unapologetic about it (and about who, and what, she really is).
Even if you don't think you're a fantasy book reader, I'd recommend this book if you're a reader -- because, really, there's so much here for book-lovers ..... and it's such a great story, too. This is the first book in the Magic Ex Libris series, and if the next one is anything as good as this one was, I'll be pre-ordering it for myself.
I also want to mention that Jim Hines is one of the nicest people I've met. I had an opportunity to meet him at a convention, and he very nicely signed some of my library's copies of his books (and he didn't mind when I started getting a teensy bit fan-girl, either). Check out his site if you'd like to learn more (and see his completely awesome takes on book cover poses)
First lines: Some people would say it's a bad idea to bring a fire-spider into a public library. Those people would probably be right, but it was better than leaving him alone in the house for nine hours straight. The one time I tried, Smudge had expressed his displeasure by burning through the screen that covered his tank, burrowing into my laundry basket, and setting two weeks' worth of clothes ablaze.