Length: 288 pages
Audiobook Length: 7 hours and 41 minutes
First Published: 2012
After losing his job in the Great Recession, Clay Jannon takes a position as a night clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. However, something is odd about this particular bookstore. The customers are sparse and never buy any books. Instead, they “check out” obscure large volumes written in code stacked on perilously high shelves. When Clay’s curiosity gets the better of him, he finds a secret society determined to solve an ancient mystery that promises eternal life.
More The DaVinci Code than The Magicians, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is an enjoyable tale full of quirky characters. With little character development and overly used tech talk, the story never dives below surface level. You’ll either be completely charmed by the imaginative setting or find this to be a completely forgettable read.
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything―instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.