Tuesday, April 26, 2016

REVIEW: Sword in the Stacks by Jen Swann Downey

*Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for a fair review*

Expected publication: June 7, 2016

Sword in the Stacks is the second in the juvenile/tween fiction Ninja Librarians series.  Dorrie and her brother, Marcus, have been recruited as apprentices to the Petrarch Library. They'll train to become Lybrarians, a secret society that transcend time and space in order to protect the world from nefarious forces.  The apprentices balance their classwork while assisting the Lybrarians in their quest to find a missing key that might destroy their fortress and place foe, the Foundation, in power.

Dorrie soon learns that a training expedition to 1912 London brings her dangerously close to the enemy and is determined to spy and help the cause; however, any misstep might lead the villains right to the people and places she and her friends are determined to protect.

A drawback is that the series and individual book title are misleading based on what actually transpired throughout the narrative. The cover is eye catching but there aren't actually any ninjas and swordplay is occurs in just a fraction of the story--I can't speak for the first entry in the series. While appealing, readers might experience some letdown if they are hoping for stealthy ninjas. The writing and world building are engaging and deceptively sneaky (which I love). Readers learn about historical figures and events in a fun and creative way.

Check out ALA's Intellectual Freedom Blog for my upcoming post about the book's connection to the larger conversation regarding intellectual freedom.

Overall, this is a cute book for middle grade readers (grades 5 thru 8). There is a great sense of adventure and mystery plus a good deal of humor which will appeal to many young readers. Any history buff or library lover will get a kick out of the premise. I remain of the mindset that anyone who knows a librarians and what we do would consider us superheros and this book does just that. I'd recommend this as a read-a-like for anyone who loved the Magic Tree House or Time Spies books as a younger reader or who enjoy Rick Riordan or even Ink & Bone by Rachel Caine.

Final rating: 3.75/5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @jenswanndowney



#ninjalibrarians #swordinthestacks #intellectualfreedom #libraries #middleschool #adventure #humor #history #netgalley