Work with me here for a minute: imagine a Clive Cussler novel in all it's rip-roaring, unbelievable adventuring; now try to imagine opening a Dirk Pitt novel and finding a pretty decently written romance. All the Dirk Pitt silliness is there, but really, it's a romance.
That's how I feel about this book. Ellery Adams writes cozy mysteries - and this is a cozy mystery, but she has the imagination of a fantasy writer - and the story is definitely fantastical. Now, I know she's not the first to mix the two things; there's a whole sub-sub genre for cozy paranormals. But this one, for some reason I can't put my finger on, feels weirder than the rest. Like someone's trying to wear plaid and polka dots together.
Jane is the manager of a book retreat resort in Virginia that sounds divine: a place to go where no electronic devices are allowed, full tea is served every day and there might be more libraries than rooms. But she's also the caretaker of a hidden library; one that holds treasures unknown to the public, like Shakespeare's missing play, or an unknown copy of Gutenberg's bible. And the library is magically able to hold much more than it should be able to. Jane and her staff are part of some ancient secret society tasked with being the caretaker of these books and doing whatever is necessary to save and preserve them.
Then there's her love interest - a man she finds out is a thief called The Templar. But is he? As this is the 3rd book in the series, she finally finds out what's what with him and it's as out-there as her backstory.
But across the top of all of this is a very mundane, run-of-the-mill, murder mystery with very real, mundane suspects. The mystery is good; although not book related, it is related to gardening and a medieval herbal group who is staying at the resort.
As I write this, I think what makes the story feel weird is that there are two very distinct layers here and they're like oil and water - they don't interact with each other at all. This fantastical secret library and it's secret societies have nothing whatsoever to do with the mystery or the people involved in it.
So, it's good, but it's sorta weird. I'll read the next one though; maybe it will homogenise the mystery and the fantasy a bit better.
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