The Absolute Book

Taryn Cornick believes that the past is behind her – her sister’s death by violence, and her own ill-conceived revenge. She has chosen to live a life more professional than personal. She has written a book about the things that threaten libraries – insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring. The book is a success, but not all of the attention it brings her is good.

There are questions about a fire in the library at Princes Gate, her grandparents’ house, and about an ancient scroll box known as the Firestarter. A policeman, Jacob Berger, has questions about a cold case. There are threatening phone calls. And a shadowy young man named Shift appears, bringing his shadows with him. Taryn, Jacob, Shift – three people are driven towards a reckoning felt in more than one world.

The Absolute Book is an epic fantasy, intimate in tone. A book where hidden treasures are recovered; where wicked things people think they’ve shaken from their trails find their scent again. A book about beautiful societies founded on theft and treachery, and one in which dead sisters are a living force. It is a book of journeys and returns, set in London, Norfolk, and the Wye Valley; in Auckland, New Zealand; in the Island of Apples and Summer Road of the Sidhe; at Hell’s Gate; in the Tacit with its tombs; and in the hospitals and train stations of Purgatory.

Cover: Lost (2014) by Catherine Nelson.

‘An angelic book, an apocalyptic book, an astounding book.’ FRANCIS SPUFFORD

‘The master is present. To read Knox on such a huge canvas – to be immersed in her worlds, wrapped in her intelligence and craft so completely – is an experience not be missed. Lessing, Le Guin, Knox – books where the best hearts meet the best minds meet the best imaginations are few and far between. The Absolute Book is a triumph of fantasy grounded in the reality and challenges of the moment we live in.’ PIP ADAM

‘I can record that I enjoyed The Absolute Book outrageously.’ CHARLOTTE GRIMSHAW, THE LISTENER

‘She has crafted her own genre that blends reality and the fantastical in a way that makes you re-examine both.’ ETHAN SILLS, CANVAS

‘I didn’t want it to finish, I completely adored it, and I think everyone should own it and gift it.’ LOUISE O’BRIEN, NINE TO NOON

‘Every page is a declaration of love for story, for literature, for libraries. And with that, a love for the humanity and goodness of cities and civilizations in which libraries flourish. It’s a humane book. It’s an argument through story for story.’ MARIA McMILLAN, THE SPINOFF

‘A New Zealand writer at the top of their game.’ LYNETTE HARTGILL, THE READER

‘Elizabeth Knox is an author whose mind moves so swiftly you can almost hear it crackle when you meet her in person. Her deep and innate intelligence and curiosity are so boldly and beautifully on display in The Absolute Book. So much has been written about it, there’s almost no point going on, except to say that there is no other New Zealand author who gets into my dreams the way Elizabeth does. When I read this book, I had several dreams about trees in one week, and I felt the gauze of other worlds brushing my skin regularly. She conjures things out of the air as if it were no trouble at all, that’s how good she is.’ MICHELLE LANGSTONE

And here are links to a couple of interviews:

Interview with Pip Adam, Pantographic Punch

Interview with Emma Page in Your Weekend

Available here, an at all good bookstores

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