When her father leaves on an unexpected trip and does not return, Alice finds her world turned inside out. Her father's house and belongings are all sold, she is told she has nothing left, and is sent to live with an uncle she's never even heard of.
Upon her arrival, Alice notices that things at her Uncle's mansion are...odd. Being a curious girl, and with no one forthcoming with answers, Alice begins to explore the old mansion and it's oddly forbidden library, and it is here that she stumbles upon secrets that she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams.
Fantasy at its best, Django Wexler has built such a superb world, with descriptions that are rich in detail, imagination, and originality. His characters have great depth, going well beyond the commonly simple labels of 'good' and 'bad', often twisting and weaving between the two so quickly that you are left with just as much doubt as Alice as she tries to figure out who she might be able to trust.
The Forbidden Library is so incredibly well written, it is a pure delight to read as well as captivating in subject. Set at the turn of the 20th century, the language beautifully reflects the time period, but not to an extent that it would alienate young readers. The descriptions are elaborate but easy to follow and I found myself thoroughly invested in all elements of the story.
The character of Alice herself is one that you can not help but admire. She shows grit, determination, and strength, while also holding on to the values that her father tried to instil in her, honesty, integrity, and her value for friendship, in a magical world where cruelty and death reign.
Fantasy done on a similar level to the Harry Potter series, I highly recommend this book for all readers from age ten and up.
Title: The Forbidden Library
Author: Django Wexler
Publisher: Random House Australia, $15.99
Publication Date: 1 April 2014
For ages: 10+
Type: Junior Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure