Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore Review


Olivia Madderom, Editor-in-Chief

Although the start is a little slow in Robin Sloan’s “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” the mystery and the charisma that shrouds the story will keep the reader at the edge of their seat while maintaining a relaxing overall tone.  

Clay Jannon, ex-Web Designer, wanders one day into Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, a dark and skinny store tucked away in San Francisco. After being hired, and proving his skill with climbing up the rickety ladders to retrieve books, Clay takes the graveyard shift, working through the night. What he finds is a mysterious and strange clientele, even more so than his elusive boss, and he must document these customers in detail in a log book. They come with regularity, they check out books he’s been instructed not to read, and they seem to all be in on a secret. Soon Clay surrenders to his curiosity and flips through a book, realizing that it’s a code, and his job just got a lot more interesting.

Sloan develops not only the hero himself, but also his colorful and highly successful small band of friends. Clay will marry old technology and new technology to uncover all the secrets hiding in the dusty spines and eventually work with his boss, Penumbra himself, to solve a very, very big mystery.

Using intense imagery, and wrestling debates that haven’t even started yet, Sloan shows his skill by merging young adult fiction with mystery and turning out an exciting and intensely detailed story, which will grab your attention from the first page until the last page. This is a perfect summer read, wonderful for a day at the pool or to keep you company while traveling.