For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.
If you enjoy The Book Jumper, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, or even the TV show The Librarians, you’ll love this book. It celebrates the bond between a reader and a really good book. I fell in love with this book before the first chapter had even ended.
Charlie Sutherland is a prodigy. Brilliant at languages, he teaches Dickensian literature at a university. He also has the-sometimes unfortunate- tendency to read characters out of books. He can also put them back, but they don’t always want to go.
The book opens with Charlie’s older brother Rob, receiving a phone call: Charlie’s accidentally read Uriah Heep out of David Copperfield and needs help catching him so that he can be read back into his book. When Rob and Charlie finally catch him, Uriah warns that a new world is coming, brought into being by another book summoner. From there, Charlie and his less-than-enthusiastic brother are drawn into a fight for both fiction and reality.
I loved Charlie. He was a delightful combination of brilliance and naivete. He was a bit uncomfortable in his own skin unless he was discussing books. Then he had an enthusiasm and confidence that a was a ton of fun to read. He also looked up to Rob so much, and Rob couldn’t really see it.
The book is told largely from Rob’s perspective as he’s drawn into a world where fiction and reality collide. He feels largely out of his element, and he’s a little resentful of Charlie for that. He was such a complicated character, often at odds with himself, and made for a great narrator.
My other favorite character (the last one, I promise!) was Dorian Gray. He was selfish and intelligent, unsettling, and unapologetic about who he was or any choices he’d ever made. He was exactly the way he always seemed to me in Oscar Wilde’s book, and I loved every scene he was in.
The twists weren’t very twisty; I saw them all coming. It didn’t dull my enjoyment of the book at all, however. It was highly entertaining, and surprisingly thought-provoking. I’ll definitely read this again in the future.