Early Review: Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris #1) by Jim C. Hines

August 6, 2012 Review 2

*This title will be released on August 8, 2012*

Cover by: Gene Mollica


(Magic Ex Libris, #1)
by Jim C. Hines

Genre: Urban Fantasy | Excerpt: Yes
Book Trailer: No
Reviewed by: Abigail | Source: Publisher

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: DAW Hardcover; 1 edition (August 7, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0756407397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756407391


Okay – A few good points, but with significant flaws. Library/swap/borrow if you want.

Sexual Content

F/F/M kissing


Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically “reach” into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that “leaked” from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .


All kids long for special powers like the ability to fly, become invisible, or read minds.  And while I dabbled with dreams of soaring into the sky, it’s the ability so lovingly described in Jim C. Hines’ LIBRIOMANCER that stayed foremost in my mind even into adulthood.  Libriomancy is the unbelievably cool ability to  reach into books and pull out objects.  Hines treats this idea of libriomancy with as much realism as possible.  For example, it would make sense that dedicated libriomancers would study books religiously looking for new and wonderful objects.  Speculative fiction titles would be of special interest for magical and high tech items.  Longtime lovers of SF&F will get a kick out of seeing Lucy’s magical cordial from THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, and Paul’s shield belt from DUNE.

The same magic that enables libriomancers to create objects from books has more than a few pesky sideeffects.  Reaching into a book with, say, vampires can be dangerous.  While reaching for a weapon, the libriomancer is partially made real inside the book which can lead to biting.  So not only do vampires run wild in LIBRIOMANCER, but there are different kinds depending on which book they came from.  Hines details a number of them including Meyerii aka Sparklers from the Twilight series and a specific Southern variety courtesy of Charlaine Harris.

As much fun as this world was, and as many geektastic Dr. Who references that were packed in, that only really carried my enjoyment for about a hundred pages.  After that, the story and characters were on the underwhelming side, specifically the attempted romance.  Issac was fun in a beta Harry Dresden way–though not nearly as cool, but Lena was not.  She’s a uber alpha dryad that shoulders her way in to rescue Issac early on and unfortunately never leaves.  She’s got all the annoying characteristics of typical alpha males, but we’re supposed to be okay with it because she’s a female.  Issac gets jerked around by her big time *SPOILER* as she uses him to rescue her lover, tries to guilt him into sex, then trade him to the enemy, then ditches him the second she sees her lover.  In one of the most frustrating endings ever, Lena proposes a F/F/M relationship that ends on all three going at it in Issac’s kitchen.  *END OF SPOILER*

Ultimately, I was left not liking this book.  The world and magical ideas were so fantastic, but the story wasn’t anything special and the characters weren’t likable (in Lena’s case) or were too much of a doormat (in Issac’s case) to save it.  This will be my first and last read in the Magic Ex Libris series which should see a sequel in 2013.

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2 Responses to “Early Review: Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris #1) by Jim C. Hines”

  1. Cheryl

    Ugh, what a bummer! I was looking forward to this but the chick sounds like someone I’d be praying to meet a gruesome end and, if I was interested in what you put in the spoiler, I’d be looking in a different section of the bookstore. Thanks for the review and for saving me from wasting my time and money!

    • Abigail

      I was left with a bad taste in my mouth by the end–it’s too bad since the concept was so fun.