two gold snakey dragon things intertwined over a field of redBecky read about this book somewhere and got it from the library then failed to read it. She suggested I take a look at it and I read it. Then it sat around the house for another few weeks after it couldn’t be renewed any longer accruing overdue fines while I caught up on my backlogged book reviews. I couldn’t review it out of order, you see. Sucks to be compulsive.

Two alternating story lines. One set in the present day where Blake, a young boy, discovers a strange book in the St. Jerome’s College Library in Oxford while waiting for his mother who is there doing research. The other story line is set in Germany in 1452 and focuses on a young apprentice to an inventor. The inventor is Johann Gutenberg. The apprentice is Endymion Spring. Into their lives comes a man named Fust who has money to support their efforts to perfect their new book production machine, but also has an obsession of his own that centers around a mysterious chest with even more mysterious contents.

All these mysteries keep the pages turning along. Blake has a childish acceptance of the impossible things that keep happening to him coupled with a burgeoning intellect that tries to find explanations and an emotional fragility that keeps him on the edge of collapse. Unfortunately the other characters are not so richly drawn. And the plot while pleasingly twisty feels thin and capricious as it bounds towards a conclusion that wants to be profound and inevitable but ends up just seeming forced.