Books

The Book Of The Most Precious Substance review: Glorious supernatural weirdness abounds

Rare book dealer Lily Albrecht goes on a wild, thrilling and unashamedly sexy ride

The Book Of The Most Precious Substance features rare book dealer Lily Albrecht

In The Book Of The Most Precious Substance rare book dealer Lily Albrecht gets a tip-off about a 17th-century sex-magic manual. Photo: Darren Shen/Unsplash

A book that really does deliver on its thriller promise is Sara Gran’s The Book Of The Most Precious Substance. The US author is hugely under-appreciated in my view, and this latest offering is as confident and impressive as her fantastic backlist.

Rare book dealer Lily Albrecht gets a tip-off about the book of the title, a 17th-century sex-magic manual. As she follows the trail around the world with rich friend Lucas, mysterious things happen and people start dying, as Lily is thrown into a world of supernatural weirdness, unlimited wealth and extraordinary power.

Written with glorious narrative gusto, this is a hugely enjoyable ride, acerbic at times, touching at others, and unashamedly sexy. As Lily strives to find the book, her search changes both her and those around her in ways that are shocking but also seem inevitable, like all the best noir fiction. A terrific, immersive read from start to finish.

The Book of the Most Precious Substance by Sara Gran

The Book Of The Most Precious Substance by Sara Gran is out now. You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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