War between Heaven and Hell: The Absolute Book, by Elizabeth Knox, reviewed

Ursula Le Guin once described speculative fiction as ‘a great heavy sack of stuff, a carrier bag full of wimps and klutzes’. By this definition, Elizabeth Knox’s genre-hopping fantasy The Absolute Book must count as oversized baggage; but it trundles along winningly, even if it’s a trifle stout at 640 pages. Taryn Cornick is our girl. She is a scholar whose debut book, a study of libraries, is the toast of the literary circuit. But she is also the recipient of an unlucky inheritance: an elusive manuscript, nicknamed the Firestarter, last spotted in the library of her grandfather’s ancestral pile. From these Borgesian beginnings, the story orbits into wider and