The Absolute Book: A Novel (Hardcover)
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A bewitching epic fantasy about a revenge killing, a mysterious scroll box that has survived centuries of fires, and the book that changed everything
"Intricately plotted and gorgeously written, The Absolute Book is a cinematic tale that is by turns dark and dreamlike, yet ultimately hopeful." --Deborah Harkness, New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches
Taryn Cornick believes that the past--her sister's violent death, and her own ill-conceived revenge--is behind her, and she can get on with her life. She has written a successful book about the things that threaten libraries: insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring . . . but not all of the attention it brings her is good.
A policeman, Jacob Berger, questions her about a cold case. Then there are questions about a fire in the library at her grandparents' house and an ancient scroll box known as the Firestarter, as well as threatening phone calls and a mysterious illness. Finally a shadowy young man named Shift appears, forcing Taryn and Jacob toward a reckoning felt in more than one world.
The Absolute Book is epic, action-packed fantasy in which hidden treasures are recovered, wicked things resurface, birds can talk, and dead sisters are a living force. It is a book of journeys and returns, from contemporary England to Auckland, New Zealand; from a magical fairyland to Purgatory. Above all, it is a declaration of love for stories and the ways in which they shape our worlds and create gods out of mortals.
About the Author
Elizabeth Knox is the author of seventeen books, including the novels The Vintner's Luck, Dreamhunter, and Dreamquake, which received awards from the ALA, CCBC, Booklist, and The New York Public Library. An Arts Foundation Laureate, an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and the recipient of the Prime Minister's Award for Fiction, she lives with her husband and son in Wellington, New Zealand, where she teaches a course on world building at Victoria University.
Praise for Elizabeth Knox and The Absolute Book
“Blends numerous genres with a skillful and inquiring hand . . . Reading [The Absolute Book] is like holding folds of shot silk to the light, finding green flash in something that looks purple, and appreciating how thoughtfully the warp and weft embrace each other. . . I'm in awe of . . . its precision and care, and its wry, understated humor.”
—Amal El-Mohtar, The New York Times Book Review
“Majestic, brain-bending . . . Every once in a while, as a reader, you run into one of those books that is just too big for your mind to entirely take in. . . . It's quite bracing to come up against the hard edge of your own imagination as you try to pursue a visionary author through the limitless expanse of hers. This is all to say that the experience of reading the New Zealand writer Elizabeth Knox's contemporary fantasy novel The Absolute Book reminded me of how I felt reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or The Left Hand of Darkness or His Dark Materials or, to move out of genre, Life After Life or The Underground Railroad. I felt that my position in relation to the book's capacious intellect and imagination and moral purpose was a vertiginous one. It was thrilling and frightening. . . . Each time I thought the book was done surprising me, Knox flexed her own golden gauntlet and opened another gate and flung me through it.”
—Dan Kois, Slate
“Full of intrigue, mystery, magic, and history, this is a fascinating read that, despite its length, is hard to put down.”
“A propulsive parallel-worlds fantasy epic about the power of stories and storytelling.”
“Knox’s restrained, poetic writing works well with this ever-spiraling, mind-blowing optical illusion of a novel, which marries myths and lore from Celtic, Norse, and Judeo-Christian traditions with a variety of literary references. Weird and enigmatic, occasionally slow but never dull, this grand ode to Story itself is one that begs for a reread.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“This darkly luminous fantasy reads like a mystery, thoroughly and wonderfully transporting readers to another world.”
“An astonishing novel from an author I have long loved, The Absolute Book catches the reader up on the very first page and carries them away in an exhilarating rush.”
—Kelly Link, author of Get In Trouble
“Gorgeous . . . The payoffs and reveals are mind-blowing.”
—Laini Taylor, author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone
“Elizabeth Knox has the most original and lateral literary mind in New Zealand.”
“Explosive and surprising . . . quite brilliant.”
—The Spinoff (NZ)
“The Absolute Book's power is in the skill and pace of Knox's storytelling, the perfect spinning of the intricate plot, the sharp dialogue and luminous evocation of place. Knox's landscapes are vivid and beautiful, both the earthly and the otherworldly. I was carried along without objection, and the great pleasure for me, along with the simple one of wanting to know what would happen next, was the feeling that my realist mind had been flattened out - that I had, temporarily, due to the intensity and momentum of the narrative, made some kind of mental shift, lost the compulsion to search for psychological depth (always a source of disquiet) and gone back to an earlier imaginative state, one that pulsed with mysterious possibility.”
—Charlotte Grimshaw, Noted (NZ)