'Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore' started as the Kickstarter fever dream of newcomer Robin Sloan. Completely unknown, Sloan promised the book's jacket design would reflect the effort supporters put into his project and he did not disappoint. The jacket of the novel is covered in slightly raised yellow books on invisible shelves that hint at the magic within its pages by glowing mischievously in the dark. It calls quietly to passersby just as the shop within the book calls to its main character. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is a quiet place tucked safely away on a side street in the heart of San Francisco. Most people wouldn't even notice the shop, dark and poorly lit as it is in the harbor fog, and this is the case of Clay Jannon, recently unemployed computer genius, who suddenly finds himself working the night shift in this dinosaur of a bookstore. Finding the nights to be rather uneventful, except perhaps for noting the comings and goings of a few eccentrics, Clay decides to turn his computer knowledge into sleuthing skills and a mission to bring Penumbra's into the 21st Century. Who are these people that only borrow old dusty books and never purchase anything? Why do they all seem to be borrowing the same books? Has Mr. Penumbra ever heard of a Best Seller List?! Teaming up with awkward roommates, Google whiz kids, and secret societies, Robin Sloan leads you on an adventure that is both uplifting and satisfying. Never laboring or convoluted, Sloan displays a world-wise finesse that is often missing in a debut novel. 'Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore' will surprise you with how easily it grips you tight and carries you away into the mysterious labyrinth of Sloan's writing and Penumbra's history. Take my advice, you'll want to follow Clay down the rabbit hole as he and his rag-tag band of misfits attempt to discover the secrets within 'Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore'. Rated A for adventurous, absurd and absolutely geeky. Suggested As: Christopher Moore meets Seamus Heaney.
After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret.