IN ONE EPISODE of The Library, everyone was invisible. You couldn’t see the actors: you could only see the books and the bookshelves and the study carrels on the fifth floor where the coin-operated wizards come to flirt and practice their spells. Invisible Forbidden Books were fighting invisible pirate-magicians and the pirate-magicians were fighting Fox and her friends, who were also invisible. The fight was clumsy and full of deadly accidents. You could hear them fighting. Shelves were overturned. Books were thrown. Invisible people tripped over invisible dead bodies, but you didn’t find out who’d died until the next episode. Several of the characters — The Accidental Sword, Hairy Pete, and Ptolemy Krill (who, much like the Vogons in Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, wrote poetry so bad it killed anyone who read it) — disappeared for good, and nobody is sure whether they’re dead or not.    In another episode, Fox stole a magical drug from The Norns, a prophetic girl band who headline at a cabaret on the mezzanine of The Free People’s World-Tree Library. She accidentally injected it, became pregnant, and gave birth to a bunch of snakes who led her to the exact shelf where renegade librarians had misshelved an ancient and terrible book of magic which had never been translated, until Fox asked the snakes for help. The snakes writhed and curled on the ground, spelling out words, letter by letter, with their bodies. As they translated the book for Fox, they hissed and steamed. They became fiery lines on the ground, and then they burnt away entirely. Fox cried. That’s the only time anyone has ever seen Fox cry, ever. She isn’t like Prince Wing. Prince Wing is a crybaby.  The thing about The Library is that characters don’t come back when they die. It’s as if death is for real. So maybe Fox really is dead and she really isn’t coming back. There are a couple of ghosts who hang around the Library looking for blood libations, but they’ve always been ghosts, all the way back to the beginning of the show. There aren’t any evil twins or vampires, either. Although someday, hopefully, there will be evil twins. Who doesn’t love evil twins?

Kelly Link – Magic for Beginners.

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