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Monday, August 23, 2021

Book Review: The Underworld Library (Hellbrary #1) by Laura Bickle

The Underworld Library (Hellbrary #1)
by Laura Bickle
March 31, 2021
Whoever possesses the Great Library of the Underworld rules Hell itself…and threatens the destiny of both the Heavens and Earth.

The Great Library contains the most deadly magic tomes penned since the beginning of time. This magic is both wondrous and terrible, kept under lock and key by witch-librarians serving the king of the Underworld.

Eve is one of those faithful librarians. She doesn’t recall her life prior to the Hellbrary, and unlike her fellow Hellbrarians, she has very little magic to speak of. When a dangerous book is stolen, she must recover it with the help of a Gorgon librarian, a hellhound, and a mysterious shapeshifting royal envoy. This daemon, Azarr, has a serpent tongue and the heart of a man – can he be trusted?

King Caldrius’s court has fallen under siege. Caldrius’s cruel son, Ral, has returned from exile with an army to assassinate his father. But his father’s crown alone does not guarantee Ral the throne. He needs the library, and he will take it by force. His ambitions don’t end with the Hellbrary – he means to take Earth and the Heavens beyond.

Eve knows there’s only one way to defeat Ral: they must use the recovered book to awaken the Queen of the Witches. Caldrius imprisoned Viridia millennia ago when she grew too powerful to control. Then, he offered the witches a choice: serve him or die. They served, until now…but will awakening Viridia summon an evil greater than Ral?

Time is running out, and all the forces the Underworld must unite to wage war for the library and control of all of existence.

The premiere installment of the Hellbrary series sets the stage. Eve and her colleagues run The Great Library, a repository for wondrous books containing the most lethal magic. For the betterment and protection of both heaven and hell, the Hellbrary is carefully guarded. The Great Library’s benefactor, Caldrius, rules the underworld, but when his court is threatened, so too is the library. Eve and a small band of stakeholders set out on a perilous quest to retrieve a sacred, magical book that may save the library from certain seizure.

Eve is an interesting character with a shadowed past. Unsure of her life prior to her position in hell, she has little magic of her own. It will be interesting to watch her unfold as I’m certain she’s someone special. This book has a cast of colourful, creative characters. Mythological beings abound in a library as diverse as the books within. Ral is a deplorable adversary. His thirst for power is terrifyingly relentless.

This action-packed story moves quickly and provides an excellent, well-crafted foundation for the series. While Eve is a main focus, the shifting perspectives throughout the book are dynamic and interesting. I look forward to reading future installments set in this vivid, original world.

Four Sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.

Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.

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