The Absolute Book

Elizabeth Knox

fiction fantasy
adventurous slow-paced

656 pages | first published 2019

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.

What the community thinks

summary of 40 ratings (see reviews)


mysterious 85%
adventurous 78%
challenging 42%
hopeful 28%
emotional 21%
funny 21%
tense 21%
dark 14%
reflective 14%
inspiring 7%


medium 53%
slow 38%
fast 7%

Plot- or character-driven?

A mix: 75% | Character: 12% | Plot: 12%

Strong character development?

Yes: 80% | It's complicated: 20%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 50% | It's complicated: 40% | No: 10%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 44% | It's complicated: 33% | No: 22%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 72% | No: 18% | It's complicated: 9%

Average rating