Books & Literature

Book Review: The Emporium of Imagination, by Tabitha Bird

CONTEMPORARY FICTION: A captivating novel of magical realism about a fantastical shop that brings comfort, peace and hope to those in need. You won’t want to miss the opening of this shop!

An enchanting story that will wrap itself around you.

In The Emporium of Imagination, Tabitha Bird has woven an enchanting story of magical realism. Bird is a writer and poet who lives and works in the rural town of Boonah in Queensland, where this new novel has been set. Bird’s first novelA Lifetime of Impossible Days, was also a magical tale, a formula which she has proven to be capable of writing

The Emporium of Imagination is about Earlatidge Hubert Umbray (a most magical name) who one day arrives in the town. He is the custodian of The Emporium of Imagination, a shop which travels the world offering gifts to people who may not even know they needed them. But the Emporium is magic and appears where and when it is needed most. The people of this town definitely need the magic of the Emporium, but Earlatidge Hubert Umbray is also on a time sensitive mission …. to find the new custodian of the Emporium, as he is dying. 

The people we meet along the way all have secrets, regrets and losses which they have kept buried for too long, but the Emporium has a way of connecting people and helping them start afresh. The children in the story are all delightful and the reader can almost feel their pain.  We learn that there are many different kinds of hugs, like Squat-hugs, Fairy-hugs, Monkey-hugs and Ballet-hugs. And they all make perfect sense!

This is a story that wraps around you as you read. You can feel the comfort in the words. It is a story of grief and hope and family and community. The Emporium of Imagination is an easy read and difficult to put down. The chapters are not too long and it is very easy to think, “I’ll just read one more”. The story is broken into 21 days: the number of days Earlatidge has left of his life. The reader may find themselves willing the days to slow down, just to make the story last a bit longer.

With its almost magical purple cover with coloured ladybirds and its emerald green door, The Emporium of Imagination is full of magic, and belief is suspended as you follow the stories of the people of Boonah. It teaches us that we must not let our past define our future and this story also gives the reader some tools to help them move on. 

Tabitha Bird has the ability to write uplifting stories that can also heal. The reader needs to suspend their belief for a moment and just let the story settle around them. It would be a lovely book to read when curled up on the sofa. 

If you are a fan of her first novel, this one will not disappoint. If this is your first book written by Tabitha Bird, you will want to read more.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Penguin Random House
Released: 30 March 2021
RRP: $32.99

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