The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox, published by Penguin/Random House, is one of those books which will never let you go. A beautiful, fantastic, ride that travels from one end of the earth to the other and beyond, Knox takes you on a journey that will amaze and astound you and leave you asking for more.
Taryn Cornick is damaged by her past. First there was the mysterious fire in her grandfather’s library that had been set by his seemingly deranged assistant when she was a child that left both her elder sister and her scared and confused. However, and even more scarring, was the abduction and murder of her sister years later.
While the murder of a sibling would wound anyone, in Taryn’s case it set her on a path from which there would be no recovery. Not only did she plot revenge against her sister’s killer, but she made another person her tool for its enacting. Then she tried to carry on as if all were perfectly normal.
But, as Taryn discovers the past has a way of catching up to you. However, in the case of The Absolute Book, the consequences are far more frightening and fantastical than simply the long arm of the law reeling you in to pay your debt to society.
For, while no matter how horrific the murder of her sister was, it turns out the fire in her grandfather’s library when she was a child was just as significant an event. In that library was an ancient scroll box known as The Firestarter whose origins and meanings are as mysterious as its name. It doesn’t start fires, but as the conflagration in the library proved, it can’t be destroyed by flames.
While things start to unravel in the conventional way for Taryn in the shape of Inspector Jacob Berger investigating the murder of the man who killed her sister, they quickly become literally fantastical when she and Berger encounter the strange young man Shift. It turns out that’s not just a cute nickname as he has the ability to shift between worlds, as well as shape shift, and carries the two of them into the magical land of Sidhe – or Fairy.
It’s here Knox turns what at first appearance seemed to be a mystery story with same strange twists into a trip into the fantastic and strange. Taryn and Jacob are about to find out the truth of the saying there’s far more to the world than meets the eye.
Knox does a great job of subliminally preparing the reader for the transition from our earth to the land of the fae. For when it happens you’ll find you’re not really surprised or shocked. Taryn and Jacob crossing over into a different world seems just like a natural progression from what has proceeded.
From here on Knox takes us on a trip into the fantastic and sublime that you’ll not soon forget. There aren’t many writers who can mix fantasy with elements of horror and not make something sensationalistic and almost silly. However, Knox does just that while making everything completely believable. Even cameos from Odin and his ravens Huginn and Muginn aren’t out of place.
While the story itself is fascinating what really tips this over the edge making this a book you never want to put down are the characters. Knox has created people who not only leap off the page but wander into your brain and refuse to leave.
Each of them take up residence as sort of permanent squatters insisting upon telling you their stories. You forget there’s actually an author behind all this and become totally immersed in their reality.
The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox takes readers on a journey they won’t soon forget. Fantastic and wondrous it is a delight and will leave readerswistful for a world as magical as the one she’s she created.