5 Star Review – Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

September 25, 2014 Reviews 13 ★★★★★

5 Star Review – Evil Librarian by Michelle KnudsenEvil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
Published by Candlewick Press on 9/9/14
Genres: Humor, Love & Romance, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Source: BEA
My rating:
5 Stars

He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian. When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body! From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety).

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My Take

This book was a total and utter surprise for me. When I picked it up at BEA, I kind of thought, “Well, this one looks a little strange, but it might be fun.” I mean that evil librarian on the cover looked a bit goofy, and I just didn’t have the highest expectations. Well, it turns out I was right –  kind of. The book was a little strange, but it was TONS of fun! I can’t remember the last time I got such pure enjoyment out of a book. It’s like Knudsen wrote this just for me. I LOVED it!!

The synopsis pretty much describes the book. The new high school librarian is a demon, and only Cyn and her longtime crush seem to notice that he’s sucking the souls out of the student body. So, that means they’re the only ones trying to stop him!

What I LOVED:

  • Wry humor. This book read like one long episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In my book, that’s pretty much the highest compliment known to man. That’s not to say that the plot was derivative, but just that it has that same wry tone, that same snarky humor, the same heart. Plus, it explores the trials and tribulations of high school life in a supernatural and utterly humorous way. I found myself chuckling, smiling and cackling my way through the entire book. Just like in Buffy, even the villains are funny. I mean, who could resist loving a book when there are interactions like this:

“John Gabriel, the new librarian,” Mr. Gabriel says brightly. “Pleased to meet you!”

“But you’re–you’re not–” Ryan stops, swallows, starts again. “You’re not human,” he says. He seems to feel it is very important to point this out. Perhaps in case Mr. Gabriel was not aware.

Mr. Gabriel’s terrifying grin grows even larger, stretching across his face. He begins to laugh. Then he stops laughing and winks at us.

“Strangely, the job description did not specify that as a requirement.”

  • Musical Theatre. Like I said, it’s as if Knudsen wrote this book just for me! I was a theatre major in college, and musical theatre was always my favorite. So, the fact that Cyn and Ryan are involved in their high school’s production of Sweeney Todd was pretty much icing on the cake for me. The play is actually a pretty big part of the plot (in case you didn’t know, all demons love Sweeney Todd) and I really enjoyed it. Since Cyn is a musical theatre lover too, I loved all of the references she makes to her favorite musicals and to theatre in general. I loved that she lived her life constantly hoping for perfect musical theatre moments (especially when it came to romance).
  • Cyn and Ryan. Loved both leads in this book and I was totally rooting for them to get together. (Though I rolled my eyes a bit at the stereotype of the girl who falls in love with the boy she’s never spoken to – that’s my topic for my next discussion post coming tomorrow. Still, because of the tongue-in-cheek nature of the book, even stereotypes worked well.) Cyn is a strong, no-nonsense sort of girl who is utterly and completely loyal. Even when her best friend goes off the deep end and chooses an evil demon librarian over her, Cyn refuses to give up on her. And throughout the book, Cyn is constantly struggling to save everyone – no matter the cost to her. Ryan, on the other hand, is a nice balance to Cyn. He’s a bit more cautious and a little less willing to believe in the truth of the supernatural happenings around them (he takes a bit of convincing). I loved that, even when the world around Cyn gets beyond crazy, she still had time and energy to focus on a little romantic high school angst (but not too much – it’s all very light and funny!).

The negatives:

  • Too much Sweeney Todd While I loved the parts of the books that focused on the play, I did occasionally feel like some of these parts may have been a little bit too long and pulled us out of the supernatural storyline a little bit. For me this was minor, but someone who didn’t love the theatre aspect of the book as much might not appreciate this.

This book was  amazingly witty and fun! Was it a moving, life-altering book? No. But, I loved how Knudsen wove the realities of everyday high school life with a horror-filled supernatural storyline and made me laugh the whole way through. I think this book will stick with me as a favorite, so I’m giving it 5/5 stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.*** 

One more fun quote (just because):

“Okay, those guys were hardly even trying to pass for human,” Ryan says. “That’s just sloppy workmanship.”

About the Author

Michelle KnudsenI’m the author of 44 books for young readers for all ages. Titles include the New York Times best-selling picture book LIBRARY LION (illustrated by Kevin Hawkes), and the middle-grade fantasy novels THE DRAGON OF TRELIAN and THE PRINCESS OF TRELIAN. My newest picture book is BIG MEAN MIKE, illustrated by the wonderful Scott Magoon.

My newest book is my first YA novel, EVIL LIBRARIAN, which came out September 9, 2014!

Coming in March 2015:
MARILYN’S MONSTER (picture book, illustrated by Matt Phelan)

Coming in Fall 2015:
THE MAGE OF TRELIAN (Trelian #3)

I also work as a freelance editor, private writing coach, and writing teacher. Please visit my website to learn more if you’re interested – I especially love working with new writers!

Author Links:
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13 Responses to “5 Star Review – Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen”

  1. Lola

    For some reason this cover just makes me want to avoid this book. Like you said that evil librarian on the cover looks a bit goofy and I don’t know it’s just a bit of a weird cover, it is original though I’ll give it that.
    I love humor in books, but not every author can deliver it well. That excerpt made me grin.

    I have read a few books that involved plays or things like that and as I don’t know much about those I always find them a bit confusing as it seems I am missing something. But if there’s too much focus or explanation about the story in the play it can also get boring.

    Great review! It certainly changed my idea about this book, I am still not sure whether I want to read it, but I enjoyed reading your review 🙂

    • Nicole

      The play is definitely a big part of the book, but I didn’t feel like you wouldn’t be able to get it if you weren’t a musical theatre buff. This book obviously made me laugh a lot – the quotes are fun here, but they’re even better in the context of the book as a whole!

    • Nicole

      After I wrote this review, I went on Knudsen’s site and found out that she’s a Buffy fan (in fact, she’s going to be one a Buffy panel at Comic-Con in NY in October!). So, it totally makes sense that she channeled the show in her writing. Best. Show. Ever.

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