The Emporium is a bustle of a place. People come and go. Some see magic everywhere. They have phone messages and answer their phone when it rings. Other people see less magic and a more commonplace shop selling quirky vintage wares. It depends on what they expect to see. A person looking for the impossible will find it. One who isn’t cannot.
Tabitha Bird’s latest novel, The Emporium of Imagination, is a gorgeous story of magic, grief, and opportunities lost. With a little imagination the residents of small-town Boonah will discover that grief can be born and new opportunities created through the everyday magic of bravery, family and community support. And, of course, the help of the strange new store in town, the Emporium of Imagination.
I adored this novel. It is such a wonderful read, simultaneously hopeful and devastating, just like Tabitha Bird’s first book, A Lifetime of Impossible Days.
My favourite characters were Earlatidge Hubert Umbray (what an awesome name!), the travelling custodian of the Emporium of Imagination, and Enoch, a young Boonah boy who has just lost his father.
Earlatidge would be at home as a well-meaning, quirky, but slightly distracted, staffer at Hogwart’s.
Enoch is a curious and caring little boy with an angry older brother, a funny younger brother, and the dubious gift of being able to hear the silent grief of other people. When his much-loved father dies, the grief of those around him threatens to crush him completely.
The writing itself is also wonderful, effortlessly transporting the reader into the humid heat of present-day Boonah, about a 90 minute drive west of Queensland’s Gold Coast. With just a dash of magic:
There’s a wrinkle in the night air. A silent rippled throughout the township of Boonah. Nothing tangible; simply an unrest. A wakefulness. He knows that people are sticking to their sheets, tossing and turning. They assume that what keeps them awake is the humid mess of another January night, but they are wrong.
I highly recommend this book! It’s so enjoyable to read and will leave you with such a sense of hopefulness and peace. You may need a few tissues along the way though.