- Published: 13 February 2024
- ISBN: 9781787637252
- Imprint: Bantam
- Format: Trade Paperback
- Pages: 416
- RRP: $34.99
The Book of Doors
In Kellner Books on the Upper East Side of New York City, a few minutes before his death, John Webber was reading The Count of Monte Cristo. He was sitting at his usual table in the middle of the store with his overcoat folded neatly over the back of his chair and the novel on the table in front of him. He stopped for a moment to take a sip of his coffee, closing the book and marking his place with a soft leather bookmark.
‘How are you doing, Mr Webber?’ Cassie asked, as she made her way through the store with a stack of books under her arm. It was late in the day and Mr Webber was the only customer.
‘Oh, old and tired and falling apart,’ he replied, as he always did when Cassie asked how he was. ‘But otherwise I can’t complain.’
Mr Webber was a regular face in the bookstore and one of the customers Cassie always made an effort to speak to. He was a gentleman, softly spoken and always neatly dressed in what appeared to be expensive clothes. His age showed in the wrinkled skin of his hands and neck, but not in the smooth skin of his face or his full head of white hair. He was lonely, Cassie knew, but he carried it lightly, never imposing his loneliness on others.
‘Reading The Count of Monte Cristo,’ he confided, nodding at the book. The bookmark stuck out at Cassie like the tongue of a snake. ‘I’ve read it before, but as I get older, I find comfort in rereading favourites. It’s like spending time with old friends.’ He coughed a self-deprecating laugh, signalling to Cassie that he knew he was being silly. ‘Have you read it?’
‘I have,’ Cassie said, hitching the pile of books up under her arm. ‘I read it when I was ten, I think.’ She recalled long rainy days one autumn weekend when The Count of Monte Cristo, like so many other books, had taken her away.
‘I don’t remember being ten,’ Mr Webber murmured with a smile. ‘I think I was born middle-aged and wearing a suit. What did you think of it when you read it?’
‘It’s a classic, of course,’ Cassie said. ‘But the bit in the middle, that whole section in Rome – that was too long. I always wanted to get to the revenge stuff at the end.’
Mr Webber nodded. ‘He certainly makes you wait for the pay-off.’
‘Mmm,’ Cassie agreed.
The moment expanded, the silence filled by the soft jazz music playing through the speakers on the wall.
‘Have you ever been to Rome?’ Mr Webber asked, rubbing his hands together as if they were cold. Cassie knew that he had been a pianist and composer before he had retired, and he had the sort of long, delicate fingers that would dance easily across a keyboard.
These books are like weapons. And possession is power. . . With a perfect combination of dark magical books, unforgettable characters, and a storyline that grabs the reader and simply doesn't let go, this is the heart-stoppingly exciting contemporary fantasy debut of 2024.Buy now
Nadia once told me that she was kept awake at night by the idea that she would read about the end of the world on a phone notification.
From the moment she steps out into the laneway before her morning shift, Hazel Bates, tea lady at Empire Fashionwear, has the curious feeling of being watched.
Starbursts blink from streetlights like they’re sharing a secret as I wake to find myself slumped in the back of a cab, without any recollection of how I got here, or where I’m going.
Charlie’s ugly Crocs stuck to the mats on the floor behind the bar, making a sticky, squelching sound.
I was arrested in Eno’s diner. At twelve o’clock. I was eating eggs and drinking coffee.
Lisa arrived in Southbend in mid-November on a day of gathering storms, when the air dripped with humidity and the huge grey-white cumulus clouds were piled like soapsuds above the line of timber fronting the banks of the Rainsford River.
Here he is in the furthest corner of an antique desert, just one of a string of people who move silently across the sand.
The first three men came stumbling into town shortly after ten a.m., babbling of dark shapes and eerie screams and their missing buddy Scott and their other buddy Tim, who set out from their campsite before dawn to get help.