The Magic of Librarians
Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies
by Alix E. Harrow
“God save me from the yearners. The insatiable, the inconsolable, the ones who chafe and claw against the edges of the world. No book can save them.
(That’s a lie. There are Books potent enough to save any mortal soul: books of witchery, augury, alchemy; books with wand-wood in their spines and moon-dust on their pages; books older than stones and wily as dragons. We give people the books they need most, except when we don’t.”
Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow
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I love the premise of this Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow. I am a fan of libraries, and specifically librarians. They are keys to unlocking unknown worlds. They have the important job of introducing the masses to stories, and resources they never knew before. Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow highlights her love of librarians as they take on superhero mystique.
The premise of the story is that Librarians are actually secret witches. They see people in their libraries that need some sort of help or assistance and they offer that assistance. But it goes deeper then assistance with a bibliography or science homework. They give whatever help that they sense that you need. If a child deep down is lonely, the witch will find them a book that will help them battle loneliness. Specifically, for this story there is an African American kid who is seeking escape. He becomes enamored with a story and checks it out over and over. The question of the story is whether this witch(the narrator) breaks the rules of being a witch and helps him escape this world.
The neat thing about this story is that it is written as a love letter to readers. Readers love the smell of books, of buildings that house the books, of the books as objects themselves. But most importantly, readers love the escapism in stories. Extending a book lover’s love to having actual power over the reader.
Whether you agree with the actions of the witch from a practical standpoint, you can at least understand her choices.
I loved this story, as I love much of Harrow’s writing. There is a certain tone and poetic quality to the language she uses that is in much of her stories. This is no exception. Check it out, it is a short and enjoyable love letter that many readers will appreciate.
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Elizabeth Tabler runs Beforewegoblog and is constantly immersed in fantasy stories. She was at one time an architect but divides her time now between her family in Portland, Oregon, and as many book worlds as she can get her hands on. She is also a huge fan of Self Published fantasy and is on Team Qwillery as a judge for SPFBO5. You will find her with a coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Find her on: Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter