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The Library Thief

On sale

9th April 2024

Price: £16.99

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Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781408726846

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An extraordinary historical debut for any reader who loves gothic mysteries like Rebecca and Fingersmith, and fiction which shines a light on untold stories.

‘Intriguingly and superbly plotted . . . Shenjé weaves race, identity, feminism, sexuality and class into a beguiling mystery’ WOMAN & HOME

The library is under lock and key. But its secrets can’t be contained.


After he brought her home from Jamaica as a baby, Florence’s father had her hair hot-combed to make her look like the other girls. But as a young woman, Florence is not so easy to tame – and when she brings scandal to his door, the bookbinder throws her onto the streets of Manchester.

Intercepting her father’s latest commission, Florence talks her way into the remote, forbidding Rose Hall to restore its collection of rare books. Lord Francis Belfield’s library is old and full of secrets – but none so intriguing as the whispers about his late wife.

Then one night, the library is broken into. Strangely, all the priceless tomes remain untouched. Florence is puzzled, until she discovers a half-burned book in the fireplace. She realises with horror that someone has found and set fire to the secret diary of Lord Belfield’s wife – which may hold the clue to her fate . . .

‘A tantalising read that swells with secrecy and intrigue. It’s hard to believe that Kuchenga Shenjé writes of the past, and not of the present. A beautifully and skilfully written debut’
CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS, author of Queenie

‘This debut gut-wrenchingly conveys a unique historical perspective on race, gender, and sexuality . . . Fans of Sarah Waters and Bridget Collins might have in Shenjé a new author to add to their TBR lists’
LIBRARY JOURNAL

‘Powerful, gorgeously absorbing and wholly original’
JOANNE BURN, author of The Hemlock Cure

‘Threads in themes of identity, sexuality and a woman’s impossible choices into an intricate web of mysteries that would not let me go’
CARI THOMAS, author of Threadneedle

‘I was swept up with the mystery. A beautifully crafted story full of nuanced characters, gothic undertones and plenty of heart’
STACEY THOMAS, author of The Revels

‘Atmospheric and compelling. Victorian gothic with a fresh twist’
FREYA BERRY, author of The Birdcage Library

Reviews

LOVEREADING
With layers of intrigue, this captivating debut historical novel ultimately focuses on the power of inclusivity, hope, and love
LIBRARY JOURNAL
This debut gut-wrenchingly conveys a unique historical perspective on race, gender, and sexuality . . . Shenje shines a light on LGBTQIA+ love and people of color in Victorian England . . . Fans of Sarah Waters and Bridget Collins might have in Shenjé a new author to add to their TBR lists
CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS, author of QUEENIE
A tantalising read that swells with secrecy and intrigue. It's hard to believe that Kuchenga Shenjé writes of the past, and not of the present. A beautifully and skilfully written debut
FREYA BERRY, author of THE BIRDCAGE LIBRARY
Atmospheric and compelling. Victorian gothic with a fresh twist
BOOKLIST
Fans of Kate Morton's books and Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale will devour this novel . . . Shenjé rightfully joins a distinguished line of authors who love books and secrets and know exactly how to combine the two
CARI THOMAS, author of THREADNEEDLE
If this book's a thief of anything - it was my attention. I was hooked, the story opening with the tantalising traditions of a gothic mystery and then unfurling in unexpected directions, threading themes of identity, sexuality and a woman's impossible choices into an intricate web of mysteries that would not let me go
WOMAN & HOME
Intriguingly and superbly plotted . . . Shenjé weaves race, identity, feminism, sexuality and class into a beguiling mystery
ELVIN JAMES MENSAH, author of SMALL JOYS
The Library Thief just seeps into you with its breathtaking prose, weaving together a beautiful tapestry of intrigue and passion and nuance. It's a novel so intricate and considered in its construction, it's hard to believe these characters aren't real. Truly a debut for the ages!
BOOKTRIB
The Library Thief is an epic tale of class, race, gender, and self-discovery, a story full of surprises not only for the characters but for its readers. Propulsive, twisty, filled with evocative detail told through a contemporary lens, it constantly upends everything we think we know
JOANNE BURN, author of THE HEMLOCK CURE
Powerful, sagacious and warm, The Library Thief is both a gripping, multi-layered mystery and a gorgeously absorbing novel that demanded I return to its pages whenever I had the audacity to set it down. Without a doubt, Shenjé's wholly original debut has bestseller written all over it
WOMAN'S WORLD
An intriguing premise, an old library and long-kept secret . . . this arresting saga has it all
STACEY THOMAS, author of THE REVELS
I was blown away by Kuchenga Shenjé's debut The Library Thief and her memorable protagonist Florence, who takes up a job at Rose Hall as a bookbinder. Like Florence, I was swept up with the mystery of her employer's late wife's diaries and how deftly the author ties this into uncovering Florence's background. The Library Thief is a beautifully crafted story full of nuanced characters, gothic undertones and plenty of heart
KATIE LUMSDEN, author of THE SECRETS OF HARTWOOD HALL
A compelling novel that starts as a mystery and grows into a coming-of-age story, examining identity, belonging, loneliness and friendship within the restrictive and stifling world of late Victorian society. The Library Thief is filled with fantastically drawn characters and with a love of books that shines through the prose