Tabitha Bird’s The Emporium of Imagination is a magical story set in Boonah, a small Australian town. One day a plot of land between shops is empty; and then the next day The Emporium of Imagination is there.
None of the townspeople see any tradespeople, and are left scratching their heads at how the store could be built without them realising. Their curiosity is only further piqued by the smells, colours and feelings emanating from the store. Notes appear in their pockets, imploring them to visit the store to contact people in their lives, many who are no longer with them.
But, the shop can only open when the local shopkeeper is found. It’s their job to help the townspeople to find what they need in the store (by magic of course). The Emporium picks the shopkeeper, but it is up to the custodian to locate them. Time is running out for the current custodian, Earlatidge Hubert Umbray, however. The clock is ticking to find both the shopkeeper and his replacement.
The Emporium of Imagination is centred around the local townspeople. And as the plot unfolds we are introduced to many of them, and discover their tragedies and hopes. We are also discover there is more that links them than they perhaps realise. The Emporium has the potential to transform the town forever, the people just need to imagine.
Author Tabitha Bird is a wonderfully descriptive writer. I found myself connecting to the story and her creation easily. I could practically feel the character’s sense of wonderment, and visualise those starry night skies. And I loved reading about the Emporium and its goods. In fact, I found myself feeling jealous that this type of shop didn’t exist in real life.
For me, books like this are a reminder of the fact, that more often than not, books are better than a movie. There’s just that much more space for intricate thoughts and insights. However, I would be interested to see how they would go about translating this book onto the big screen.
There is a little bit of magic for everyone in this book. It’ll evoke memories, and perhaps your own feelings of grief. But, as it says in the book: “We don’t need an antidote to grief. It reminds us that we’ve lived and loved”. My advice? Don’t miss the opening of this shop!