I’m not going to lie, when the blurb for this book was sent to me, I scan read it. I thought it would be a happy book about a bookstore and the greatness of being in one. HAHAHA. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is a THRILLER about a suicide that takes place in a bookstore. Good job I like thrillers then, isn’t it?
Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the ‘BookFrogs’—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves. But when youngest BookFrog Joey Molina kills himself in the bookstore’s upper level, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s
Always Joey’s favourite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meagre worldly possessions. But when Lydia pages through his books, she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia? As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long-buried memory from her own violent childhood and details from that one bloody night begin to circle back.
I know that I’ve put this book in the category of 3 stars, but it’s more like 3.5 and the reasons it didn’t get 4 stars and even 5 was because, for me, it had a really slow beginning. I struggled to try and get into it and it just took me ages to get to a point where I was really enjoying reading it. And then once I had gotten to that point, everything was fast-paced and I couldn’t keep up with a number of mysteries that were being unravelled in the matter of a few chapters.
However, for a debut novel, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a pretty good book. It has a solid plot idea that Sullivan carries strongly throughout the course of the novel and the big reveal at the end of the book left me in a shock – I definitely did not see that coming, which is brilliant because I’m pretty good when it comes to guessing big reveals in thrillers.
“It’s quite a library, anyway,” she said, trying to sound upbeat.
“I’ve begun to think of it as more graveyard than a library. End of the line, you know. Where book-of-the-month club comes to die.”
― Matthew J. Sullivan,
This book doesn’t fully centre around Joey’s suicide. There are multiple storylines wrapped up together within this novel and mostly centres around Lydia and what she went through as a child. There were some aspects of this novel that was a bit far-fetched and I couldn’t really see that happening but hey, it’s a thriller, anything can happen, can’t it?
The characters that really grabbed my attention were Lydia and Joey. I felt like they were the only multi-layered characters and had so much depth to them. I cannot say much about the characters or even about the plot because as with usual thrillers, even the slightest thing can give away a big plot point and I really do not want to ruin this book for you.
Overall, the storyline was well thought out and kept me on the edge of my seat apart from the slow beginning and even though the ending was fast-paced, every reveal ended up being a BIG shocker. Considering that this book is Sullivan’s debut novel, it’s very well written and I cannot wait to read more of his work.
Warning: this book contains triggers for suicide and childhood trauma.
Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review