The City of Dreaming Books is my pick for “Best All-around Book of 2007.” My usual description of it reads like something from William Goldman’s The Princess Bride: “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions. Miracles.” Ok, there aren’t beautiful ladies, and fencing is generally left out, but the rest stands true.
Don’t be fooled, this is not a story for children. This is a book for people who love books. It is a fantasy set in the land of Zamonia and told to us by a young writer named Optimus Yarnspinner, a dinosaur who travels to Bookholm in search of the author of a manuscript left to him by his godfather. Bookholm is a city built on the book industry with thousands of bookstores and coffee shops, publishers everywhere, people reading on the streets and an underground labyrinth full of hidden libraries and the dangerous Shadow King.
Oh, and this books is beautiful. Walter Moers is a brilliant cartoonist as well as a fabulous writer. The words dance off the pages. This book is comparable to flourless chocolate cake: rich, smooth and goes wonderfully with strawberries. I have no higher praise.