After reading the original book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, back in April (which you can find my review of here) I was delighted to find that Robin Sloan had also written a prequel too! I won’t go into detail about the original book but if you haven’t already read it then you really should give it a go, as I said in my review it is ‘almost the perfect novel, smart, witty, fun, mysterious and wonderfully structured’.
The series of events that are covered in this book follow our erstwhile bookshop owner / ‘cult’ extraordinaire Mr Penumbra in the ‘summer of ’69 (all credit to Mr B. Adams for that line). San Francisco in the summer of this year is, as you can imagine, full of drugs, parties, rock and roll and all the debauchery that you can think of but for Ajax Penumbra all of that is just a distant vision. A young Penumbra is not looking for this new age, he is looking for a book and not just any book.
The book that he is searching for is the mysterious and extremely rare Techne Tycheon, a tome of work that has both created and stolen great riches from its various owners. After searching far and wide for this book Ajax has discovered that the last known location of this book was more than a century ago…in San Francisco. Armed only with a fragment of a minuscule amount of information Ajax’s mission is to locate this book and bring it back to his university for their illustrious library. During his quest he happens to come across the eponymous bookstore that we learn about in the previous book, this major discovery opens doors for Ajax in many more ways than he realises at the time…
Just as excellent as the first book, Ajax Penumbra 1969 is equally as witty and smart with every bit of fun and mystery too. Not one that will take you a very long time to read at all (something I read in a lazy hour before bed) but it is one that will stick with you. Cleverly filling in some of the gaps from Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore’, this an excellent prequel that I can’t recommend enough for fans of Robin Sloan. Thanks to the people at Atlantic Books for sending me a copy to review!