Book Review: The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox

Taryn and her sister Beatice were as close as could be, until one tragic day when a man hits Beatrice with his car and then stuffs her body into the trunk, where she dies. The driver is arrested and convicted for an accidental death, but Taryn believes it was intentional, and shortly after his release, the killer is found dead near the scene of the original crime. Detective Jacob Berger senses that Taryn, now married and living quite comfortably, knows more about his death than she is letting on and begins to investigate her more closely. At the same time, a strange man named Shift has begun haunting her life, interested in a fire that took place at her grandparents’ home when the girls were still children, and the mysterious scroll box that survived, as it was alleged to have done through several other fires over the ages.

It’s best not to divulge more about the plot, as half the fun is seeing just how it unfolds, and being taken to the many unexpected places the author takes us. The Absolute Book may begin as a somewhat straightforward murder mystery, but it manages to shapeshift several times throughout, subverting readers’ expectations repeatedly along the way. Traversing continents and worlds, and incorporating key aspects of several major mythologies, Elizabeth Knox merges the ordinary and the fantastic with beautifully flowing prose and a keenly observational eye. The density of the world-building within can make the book feel a bit daunting at times, but is part of what makes it special as well.

One leaves The Absolute Book with a real sense of knowing the places described within, and caring deeply for the characters. This is an epic quest worth taking, a beautiful journey of discovery, and a moving tribute to the power of language, stories, and libraries. ★★★★★

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★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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