The Extraordinary Curiosities of Ixworth and Maddox, by J.D. Grolic

I am mostly saying no to review copies from independently published authors these days, because of feeling overwhelmed by books and life, but I'm really glad I took a chance on The Extraordinary Curiosities of Ixworth and Maddox, by J.D. Grolic!  I enjoyed it lots.

Chloe is sad--her busy parents are neglecting her, and her best friend is growing up faster than she is and has started leaving her behind.  Then one rainy London afternoon, walking home from school through a curious little London street, she tries to shelter in a shop doorway.  The rain comes down harder, and though the shop isn't open for business yet, she tries the door in desperation, and enters "The Extraordinary Curiosities of Ixworth and Maddox."  

There she finds magic, for Ixworth and Maddox aren't just ordinary sellers of curious things.  They are London magicians, creating, with the help of their resident brownies, magical marvels to sell to others such as themselves...and surprisingly, they welcome Chloe; after all, the door opened for her.  She finds herself spending more and more time with them, and the two kindly magicians encourage her own potential for magic.  

When Ixworth disappears with no warning or reason, Chloe is determined to help Maddox find him.  They set off on a journey that takes Chloe deep into magical London, where dark and ancient magic is being worked in a struggle for power.  It's not just Ixworth who needs saving (if saving him is even possible).....

Like I said, I enjoyed this.  I very much like interesting fantasy shops, and though some readers might find the first half of the book slow, I loved being introduced gently, with lots of details, to what the shop was selling and the workings of the magical city.  And then when things got going plot wise, and there was a mystery to solve and bad people and dangerous magic to foil, I enjoyed that too. Chloe has both believable agency and believable emotional reactions.  

In short, it doesn't break any particularly new ground, but it is does what it sets out to do very satisfactorily.  And if, like me, you like middle grade fantasy shop keeping, it's a must!  I hope there is a sequel.

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