THE NINJA LIBRARIANS: The Accidental Keyhand


THE NINJA LIBRARIANS: The Accidental Keyhand

By Jen Swann Downey

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2014.

P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567-4410

ISBN: PZ7.D75913NI2014

PRICE: $7.99


The opening line of the story grabbed me. It starts like this: “Twelve-year-old Dorothea Barnes was thoroughly un-chosen, not particularly deserving, bore no marks of destiny, lacked any sort of criminal genius, and could claim no supernatural relations. Furthermore, she’d never been orphaned, kidnapped, left for dead in the wilderness, or bitten by anything more bloodthirsty than her little sister.”


But Dorrie manages to have a rip-roaring adventure time traveling through history. She accidentally finds an opening that leads to Petrarch’s library. She and her brother go through trying to get out of the janitor’s closet where they are trapped. Some libraries have properties that allow their librarians to travel back and forth between their time and the ancient library at the center. Special protectors are trained at this center to guard and protect the writers that are persecuted in their own time by people who want to keep them from publishing their written works. Some of these protectors are called keyhands which means that can travel through the openings between the library worlds.


Dorrie, whose original motive for staying in the alternate world is sword fighting, she wants to become better at it. One of the skills the protectors are taught is sword fighting and other type of weapons combat. But as she becomes acquainted with her sword technique instructor and makes other friends she begins to take an interest in protecting the ancient library and the people in that world. Dorrie is a character who is well drawn and readers will identify with her as she becomes more curious about her new situation.


The setting description is well done. The reader can picture themselves there in the Attic with the apprentices. The dialogue is well done and believable.

Food and animals are created by reading book texts. Cloths disintegrate when worn through an arch to a place and time where they don’t belong. The writing style is easy to read. This is a big world and has a lot of possibility for action and adventure. I found the rules of the world complicated and sometimes hard to follow. Food and animals can be created by reading book texts. After the wonderful opening, and the fall through time, the twelve year old reader might get bogged down in some of the historical references, because I found that some of the references slowed me down as I had to think about them.


For the right reader from twelve to fourteen this is the perfect book selection. The reader who is not daunted by many historical references will enjoy it. The reader who likes time travel and adventure will also enjoy it.


Rating it on a five star system with five being the highest rating, I would give this book a four. But I did enjoy it. I love history, enjoy time travel, and thought the premise for the adventure a worthwhile diversion.


About Mary T Kincaid

Writer of fiction and non-fiction for children of all ages. Love the mental age where the rules of logic are suspended and there is a willingness to enter the story world no matter what your physical age.

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