Christopher Nuttall's Bookworm was published by Elsewhen Press as an e-book in January 2013. The paperback edition was published in May 2013.
Information about Christopher Nuttall:
Christopher Nuttall has been planning sci-fi books since he learned to read. Born and raised in Edinburgh, Chris created an alternate history website and eventually graduated to writing full-sized novels. Studying history independently allowed him to develop worlds that hung together and provided a base for storytelling. After graduating from university, Chris started writing full-time. As an indie author, he has self-published a number of novels. The Royal Sorceress was the first of his novels to be published by Elsewhen Press. Chris is currently living in Borneo with his wife, muse, and critic Aisha.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Click here to visit the author's blog.
Information about Bookworm:
Elaine is an orphan girl who has grown up in a world where magical ability brings power. Her limited talent was enough to ensure a magical training but she's very inexperienced and was lucky to get a position working in the Great Library. Now, the Grand Sorcerer – the most powerful magician of them all – is dying, although initially that makes little difference to Elaine; she certainly doesn't have the power to compete for higher status in the Golden City. But all that changes when she triggers a magical trap and ends up with all the knowledge from the Great Library – including forbidden magic that no one is supposed to know – stuffed inside her head. This unwanted gift doesn't give her greater power, but it does give her a better understanding of magic, allowing her to accomplish far more than ever before.
It's also terribly dangerous. If the senior wizards find out what has happened to her, they will almost certainly have her killed. The knowledge locked away in the Great Library was meant to remain permanently sealed and letting it out could mean a repeat of the catastrophic Necromantic Wars of five hundred years earlier. Elaine is forced to struggle with the terrors and temptations represented by her newfound knowledge, all the while trying to stay out of sight of those she fears, embodied by the sinister Inquisitor Dread.
But a darkly powerful figure has been drawing up a plan to take the power of the Grand Sorcerer for himself; and Elaine, unknowingly, is vital to his scheme. Unless she can unlock the mysteries behind her new knowledge, divine the unfolding plan, and discover the truth about her own origins, there is no hope for those she loves, the Golden City or her entire world.
A REVIEW OF CHRISTOPHER NUTTALL'S BOOKWORM
Christopher Nuttall's Bookworm was a pleasant surprise for me, because the author has woven an exciting and entertaining story of secrets, dark history, books, werewolves and magic, and knows how to keep the story on the move. I'm sure that this book will remind several readers of how much fun reading a fantasy book can be, because it's fluently written escapism.
Before I write more about Bookworm, I'll mention that I did a bit of research when I finished reading it and noticed that there are readers who haven't liked it. I think that these readers haven't understood this book, because it's pure entertainment from start to finish and should be read and reviewed as such. This kind of entertaining fantasy has always divided readers into two groups and I think that it will continue to do so, because readers have different tastes and there are readers who don't enjoy pure light-hearted escapism as much as others. I personally like well written escapism very much, because it's delightful to read good and light-hearted entertainment when the fantasy world is interesting and the story moves fluently from start to finish.
In my opinion Bookworm is one of those books that you can easily pick up and read as pure escapism and that's a good thing, because it's very relaxing to read this kind of entertaining fantasy (we all need books that make us relax and forget everything else for a while). If you're like me and like good escapism, Bookworm will most certainly please and entertain you.
Bookworm is a combination of adult fantasy, young adult fantasy, traditonal fantasy and a bit of modern fantasy. It contains traditional fantasy elements from a young heroine to a sinister plot, but it also contains modern themes (dating and sex) that separate it from other similar books. (Please note: Although there are certain young adult elements in this book, it isn't suitable for young adults, because it contains sex and violence.)
Bookworm is a charming and easy-to-read standalone book. It's a bit difficult to find standalone fantasy books nowadays, because many authors tend to write series, so I respect the author for having the courage to write a standalone book. (Although Bookworm is a standalone book, it would be possible to write sequels or prequels, because the world that the author has created is fascinating and several more things could be revealed about it. I personally would like to read more about this fantasy world.)
Here's a bit of information about the story:
The heroine of this book is Elaine. She has lived quite a sheltered life and has been bullied as a child. She's a young woman who doesn't have special magical abilities - she can only do simple things with magic. She's a librarian and works at the Great Library. One day Elaine triggers a magical trap and learns all the spells - including all the dangerous and forbidden spells that are locked in the Black Vault - in the Great Library. This changes her life, because she suddenly finds out that she has more knowledge than before and she's able to do things she couldn't do before. She fears Inquisition and tries to keep her new talents hidden from Inquisitor Dread... At the same time the Grand Sorcerer is dying and several sorcerors want to take his place... And a dark and sinister figure has woven a plot that may bring death and destruction to everybody...
Elaine is an interesting protagonist because of her past: she was an orphan and then she went to the Peerless School to learn magic. Elaine reminded me quite a lot of the heroines in several young adult books, because she gets into all kinds of trouble and has to figure out how to survive.
The author writes well about Elaine's powers, fears and life. I enjoyed reading about how Elaine's past and the magical accident affected her life and decisions. Before the accident she was very careful, but after the accident she became bolder and had more courage to do things that she normally wouldn't have done.
It was interesting to read how Elaine slowly got to know what it feels like to be a woman as she started dating Bee, because it was something different (fantasy authors don't normally write as boldly and uninhibitedly about this subject as Christopher Nuttall does). I enjoyed reading about Elaine's relationship with Bee. Her first steps towards being a woman were a bit awkward, but that's what it's like for real people too, because we all have to learn things for ourselves, and every now and then everybody feels insecure.
This book has two difficult themes: the temptation of power and the corrupting power of magic. Both themes were handled amazingly well, because Elaine had to think about how the new knowledge affected her and how she could easily become a powerful person if she chose to surrender herself to the temptations. She also thought about how easy it would be to totally loose control.
It was intriguing to read how Elaine felt about Millicent, because she didn't like her at all. Millicent had tormented and humiliated Elaine when they were at school together. I especially enjoyed reading about how Millicent was taught a lesson, because it was an excellent scene.
Elaine's friend, Daria, is a fascinating character. She's totally different from Elaine, because she isn't shy, likes men and loves dancing etc. Daria is a good friend to Elaine, because she supports her. Daria also has a secret that she has kept hidden from others.
Inquisitor Dread is a bit mysterious character. At first he seems to be a man who must be feared, but as readers get to know more about him, it's easier to understand his motives and work. He's a complex character who tries to do his best to protect the world and innocent people, but may sometimes have to do difficult decisions and obey orders. The conversations between him and Elaine were handled well.
Reading about Elaine's search for her parents was interesting, because she didn't know anything about her past and wanted to find out what had happened to her when she was born.
In my opinion Christopher Nuttall writes surprisingly boldly about such sensitive things as sex and sexuality. He also manages to deliver shocks and surprises when necessary, which is nice, because they add quite a lot of atmosphere to the story (these things are used to spice up the story). The author also uses humour in a good way in this book.
When I read Christopher Nuttall's Bookworm, it reminded me a bit of the author's other book, The Royal Sorceress, because both of these books have a young heroine as a protagonist. It also reminded me slightly of Blake Charlton's Spellwright, but was totally different from it.
The author writes well about power struggle, magic, ancient evil and history. Worldbuilding works nicely, because the author evokes images of the different places in the reader's mind by writing about the landscapes and places in a fluently descriptive, but not overwhelming way. It was fascinating to read about the dark history of the Empire and what happened during the Necromantic Wars that almost destroyed the whole world.
The Great Library is an interesting building, because it has been protected by magic from all who try to break into it and steal the secrets that have been stored inside it. The library is much bigger on the inside than on the outside. This kind of magic has also been used elsewhere in the world.
The society of sorcerors is intriguing and ruthless, because everybody has their own place in the society depending on their powers and abilities. Rivalry is common and there's even family rivalry among the sorcerors. It was good that the author showed how power and magical powers affected characters and defined the sorcerors.
I think that Bookworm will please everybody who wants to read an entertaining fantasy story and wants to escape reality for a few hours. It's a charming fantasy book for readers who like magic and young heroines. I give this book strong four stars for its entertainment values. (PS. If you enjoy reading this book, please take a look at the author's The Royal Sorceress, because you'll enjoy it too.)