Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, by Jonathan Auxier (Harry N. Abrams, April 2016), the sequel to Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. The first adventure of Peter Nimble was not quite to my personal taste; I didn't understand why so many people loved it so fervently. Happily for me, I enjoyed this second book much more, partly because the main character, Sophie Quire, is tailor-made for bibliophiles.
Sophie is a book mender, working in her father's book shelf carefully and skillfully repairing books, a trade her murdered mother had taught her. But the town she lives in has been overtaken by a movement led by Inquisitor Prigg to purge nonsense from daily life--and nonsense means all magic, and all books, because books of course are full of a magic of their own. When Sophie is arrested for saving some books from the to-be-burned pile, she is saved by two unlikely heroes--Peter Nimble himself, and his friend Sir Tode (a knight transformed into a hooved catlike creature). Peter Nimble is not there by chance. He has come to deliver a very special book to Sophie, the Book of Who. It is on of four magical books, each with their extraordinary ability to answer their own question--Who, What, When and Why. Each book had a storyguard to keep it safe, and now Sophie finds herself the storyguard of the Book of Who.
Then she finds herself running for her life as she and Peter (and Sir Tode) set out to try to find the other three books, before Inquisitor Prigg, and other enemies as well, can get their hands on them! The dangerous excitements of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes are here as well, and there is one hair raising adventure after another. But there's more depth of character to Sophie's story. Peter, for instance, finally shows weakness and self-doubt, making him more human and relatable. His blindness is still magically compensated for, but the loss of his hand becomes a genuine handicap. And Sophie herself is a fine character, one such as any book loving girl can relate to. On the plus side, she is also a kid of color, a brown-skinned girl (like her foreign mother) in a world of white faces.
It's not just an adventure, but a testimony to the power of stories. And though there's still a bit too much of the adventurous shenanigans for my own very personal taste, it's a fine read, and Auxier's any fans should enjoy it very much indeed.
(by way of warning for sensitive younger readers--some of the adventures and characters are rather horrible--for instance, one character's mouth is sewed shut--memorable, and not gratuitous, but disturbing. Lots of people and animals die. Not all books are saved....)
disclaimer: review copy received at ALA.