Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen, 343 pp, RL: TEEN
After reading my review, be sure to read my interview with Michelle Knudsen here!
When I heard the title of Michelle Knudsen's new novel, Evil Librarian, I got really excited. I didn't even need to know what the plot was, the mere idea of a character who is a high school librarian AND a demon is hands-down awesome. Happily, Knudsen brings so much to the plot of this supernatural story, from some serious butt-kicking in the underworld using only a protractor and a biology textbook, to a high school production of Sweeney Todd, to a hilarious occult bookstore owner, to a romance where the shy backstage girl gets what she wants in the end, what she knows she has earned.
Appropriately enough, Evil Librarian begins in Italian class, the "shining highlight" of Cyn Rothschild's Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, thanks to Ryan Halsey. Narrator Cyn swoons in a gushy but smart way over the handsome, almost unreal gorgeous athlete who also is the running star of the annual high school musical. In their review, Kirkus describes Cyn as enjoying a "healthy relationship with her own carnal desires," which is fantastically accurate. Knudsen, in the voice of Cyn, does a great job expressing those thoughts that run through everyone's minds when in arm's reach of a crush. Seeing Ryan pass in the hallway, Cyn's legs implore her to "release us to chase our destiny!" and it's hard for her to shake the desire to "throw him down and take a big juicy bite of his absolute deliciousness." Outside of Italian class, Cyn gets to see a fair bit of Ryan because she is the tech director for the fall musical and Ryan has been cast as Sweeney.
Sadly, or, ultimately, happily, Cyn doesn't get much theater time with Ryan because the new (evil and smoking hot) librarian Mr. Gabriel shows up a few pages into the novel and chooses Annie, Cyn's somewhat sheltered best friend (who was moments earlier bemoaning the fact that she has never been into a guy the way Cyn is into Ryan) as his future queen, once he wins the fight for the demon throne. Annie is in instant crush-mode, spending all her time in the library with starry eyes. That is, when she's not using a strange new power that Mr. Gabriel has imbued her with, one that allows her to suck out a small part of the essence of a person with the touch of a hand. When Annie does this to Jorge, Ryan's best friend, it brings Ryan and Cyn (who learns that she possess an immunity to demon power that translates roughly into human language as being a "super-roach") together, first to figure out what Mr. Gabriel is doing at their school and, eventually, to fight to save Annie's life and possibly the lives of all their classmates.
I know I focused a lot on the romance in Evil Librarian, but there is so much more, from the brilliant design of Sweeney's barber chair that serves a dual purpose to the creepy rituals and demon action that gives the novel a suspenseful, sometimes bloody edge that is usually tempered with Cyn's hilarious internal monologue that frequently involves not being kissed by Ryan just when she thinks he might. Evil Librarian delivers on every promise that the superb title holds, and then some! Best of all, Knudsen has left a window open that hopefully will lead to two more visits to the underworld for Cyn in the near future...
Other books by Michelle Knudsen:
The Library Lion illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Soon to be a trilogy, the Dragon of Trelian and the sequel,
The Princess of Trelian
Source: Review Copy