The Left-Handed Booksellers of London features 1983 in a fantastical alternate reality

Susan Arkshaw stumbled into a new world of The Left-Handed Booksellers of London when she witnessed someone turning into dust before her very eyes. Feeling reckless, Merlin St Jacques pricked Crime boss Frank Thringley with a silver hat pin, and that was the beginning of an odd partnership. In 1983, the Old Luan Dun was merging with the new London, and the booksellers were the official enforcers to ensure people didn’t disappear for no reason. My library copy is pretty well read, so here is the cover and link via Amazon.

Amazon link to paperback



Susan left her mother Jassmine in Bath to go to London. Susan received an offer to study art in The Slade, and it was her dream to find her father whilst in London. Her aim is to get employment and find her father. Meeting Merlin St Jacques and his twin Vivien was the highlight of her time, as Susan has always assumed that shadows are mere shadows. Armed with what her father had left behind for her and her mother, Susan found a friend in Merlin and Vivien, and learned about Left and Right-handed booksellers and how they came about.

Although it seemed like fate had dropped an inconvenient hot potato on Merlin’s lap, soon both Susan and Merlin realized that fate may have been kind. Merlin’s mother, Antigone, was killed a long time ago, coinciding with the disappearance of Susan’s father. Her appearance in London triggered a mass hunt, so the booksellers and Susan have to find out before something bad happens.

Why Left and Right?

According to Merlin, Left-handed booksellers are usually the fighting ones, the ones you send to stab first and ask questions later. As opposed to his sister Vivien, who is the right-handed bookseller that likes puzzles and thinking things through. The Left-Handed Booksellers of London has a lot of interesting characters. The title could well be Right-handed, and I will still borrow it. Oh, there are those with two hands, rare, but there are characters in the book with both abilities.

Garth Nix (the author) loves to dwell into the intricacies of his characters, thus sacrificing the plot for the people. I don’t mind it, but it is not for everyone. On the plus side, these made up people give good book recommendations.


If you are a fan of Garth Nix, you know what you are getting into. The world of mix of old and new London is nothing new. You get to know the main characters well, sometimes annoyingly well. While I would appreciate less costume description and more stabbing action, Merlin comes alive with his odd dress choices. Sometimes I wonder if Susan wants to slap him more than she wants to kiss him.

A lot of running around later, we get what we want: answers! And an exciting showdown with the villain.

I wanted breadcrumbs, but they are none,

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London is a follow along action book, not a mystery to solve book. The characters are fun, but the plot is so-so. Would you read it?

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