THE VANISHED LIBRARY: A Wonder of the Ancient World by Luciano Canfora is an interesting but unsatisfying book on the legendary Library of Alexandria. While it provides lots of details — the library’s efforts to collect manuscripts, the political winds that surrounded the library, the trade in fake works — each chapter is a standalone anecdote and Canfora never melds them together into a single history. And half the book is devoted to detailing his reference sources, thereby to justify some of his more controversial conclusions.
CASTLE HANGNAIL by Ursula Vernon (cover by Vernon, all rights remain with current holder) is a fun juvenile fantasy in which the minions of the eponymous evil lair are somewhat thrown when the new Wicked Witch in residence turns out to be a twelve-year-old girl (“I’m an evil twin!”). Molly, it turns out, is much less wicked than she appears and a lot less skilled at magic which makes completing the tests for ownership (smite someone, defend the castle, etc.) a challenge. Can she do it befor the supervisors’ board shuts the castle down and throws the minions out into the street? Charming, very reminiscent of Diana Wynn Jomes.
The seventh volume of Brian Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ SAGA involves the forces of evil closing in on the comet where Hazel and her family have been hiding while the Will tries to get back in the game and we catch up on several other bit players. This was surprisingly disappointing, mostly because of the ending issue — what happens didn’t shell-shock me anywhere near as much as it was supposed to, and leaving the last half-dozen pages black (because it’s That Dark And Tragic) felt lazy more than anything.