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The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase
by Greg Cox
Tor, $15.99, 288pp
Published: April 2017

Bizarre accidents that resemble modern variations of old nursery rhymes are making the news, to the bemusement of Librarians Jake Stone, Cassandra Gillian, Ezekiel Jones, and Guardian Eve Baird, who’ve barely had time to recover from saving a university campus from the rampaging Calydonian Boar of Greek mythology.  At first, Colonel Baird is more concerned by the absence of senior Librarian Flynn Carsen, who still likes to fly solo on missions, until their mentor Jenkins explains that what were published as rhymes to beguile children were actually spells of awful potency that, in the hands of a spell-caster, held the potential to unleash mayhem, disaster, death, and even unmake the world. The only surviving copy of the original edition had been divided into three parts; reassembled, it would once again be a terrible artifact.

The personal Clippings Books insist on directing Jake, Cassie, and Ezekiel to investigate specific incidents on their own, leaving Jenkins to stew over the Big Picture and Baird to troubleshoot. At first, some of the assignments seem like mismatches for their respective talents. You’d think street-smart Jones would be the Librarian to help out a Miami rapper; instead, he’s paired with a take-no-nonsense matron in rural Ohio, while Cassie is sent to help the genial singer. Jake’s assignment to meet with a professor who’d been teleported into a pumpkin makes more sense, since he has more than enough degrees of his own to converse with a fellow Fellow.  Gradually the relationships of the victims to the rhymes become clear, as does the absolute rightness of each Librarian for their posting.

Back at the Library, sympathetic Magic is causing problems that keep Jenkins and Baird busy and distracted, but in her free moments, Eve continues to puzzle out what might have befallen the missing Flynn. And a good thing she does, because he, too, has been caught by the wild Magic of Mother Goose. 

The showdown takes place in a derelict amusement park where broken plaster statues of Mother Goose characters come to life to battle our beleaguered heroes and their new companions, which is astonishingly effective, as few things are as scary as symbols of childhood gone wrong. 

The storytelling is fast-paced, full of humor and laced with wordplay. Greg Cox is wonderful at balancing action with character development, and at dishing out revelations; readers can anticipate some and be surprised by others. He is also faithful to the canon of the TV show, alluding to past adventures and portraying the camaraderie and talents of the Librarians who save the world from dangerous magics. Honestly, I’d love to see this story turned into an episode, but you do not have to be a fan of the show to enjoy this story. Anyone who does watch the show, or who misses Eureka and Warehouse 13, will find delight or solace here.  This is the sort of storytelling we love best. – Chris Wozney

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