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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

The Invisible Library | Review


Rating - ⭐⭐⭐1/2


"Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen.


London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.


Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself."


 

The Invisible Library is the first novel in the fantasy series of the same name by Genevieve Cogman.


This is on my '22 Books to Read in 2022' list, so at the very least I can say that I got this book checked off. In all honesty, though, I didn't mind this book. Was it everything I hoped it would be, no, but will I continue the series, sure?


I don't have much to talk about initially, so I am just going to go right into the details.


 

WRITING


I have nothing to really reflect upon when it comes to the writing. I thought it was easy enough to read, although there were some chunky paragraphs that blended both dialogue and description together.


My only comment to make is that there were some odd sentences here and there, such as 'sampling partners from many different cultures'. That is a very odd and longwinded way to say hooking up.



PLOT


This is the kind of plot that speaks to me; undercover librarians travelling to parallel universes in order to acquire rare texts. While the concept is great, this doesn't hit its full stride in my opinion. That is mainly due to the fact that the moments of action and high tension in this are strangely done (and were repetitive).


Parties get crashed by alligators, people are chased by werewolves and unexplained silverfish. That kind of strangeness occurred over and over again. I don't know why the author decided that that was the right way to advance the story because I was more confused than anything.


There were also simply too many pieces at play at the same time for just one book. We had Silver fae, the anti-fae Iron Brotherhood, ex-librarian Alberich and questionable Bradamant all with their own agendas running around. It was just too much for one book to handle.


There were some aspects of the plot that were mentioned that left me hanging and that I hope are brought up later in the series. As I have said already, these librarians enter other worlds in order to acquire something. Vale, rather smartly, asks our main character what gives them the authority to travel into other people's worlds to steal from them, and without much consequence to the lives that might end up caught in the middle?



WORLD-BUILDING


As I have already established, this takes place in a world where interdimensional travel is possible. Since there are assumedly an infinite amount of alternate universes, the realm of possibilities for this series is wide open. In this book, we've got dragons, fae, vampires and werewolves to name a few.


We also have magic, and a special kind of magic only used by the librarians called the Language. Essentially, the Language is word magic where they can make things happen with their words. I am not sure how I feel with this being the magic system of the series because word magic feels like a cheat. I like how this kind of magic was handled in something like Jujutsu Kaisen with Inumaki's character, but it doesn't translate as well in a fully textual book.


What I did like though, was the magical tattoos that acted as a link between the library and the worlds and lets the librarians travel in between. I also liked the idea that the library is a fixed point in space, and can complete years of training without ageing.



CHARACTERS


At first, I rather liked the main character, Irene, but I found myself liking her less the more I progressed. I liked the way she was able to think on the spot in order to get herself out of a tough situation. That, however, didn't last very long.


One criticism I have is that the side characters were not utilized to their full potential. I thought that Kai was an interesting sidekick kind of character, but he wasn't as relevant to the plot as I thought I would be. He ended up kind of being pushed off to the side which was a shame. One thing that put me off his character a bit was his opinions about another character, Vale.


Vale, who was probably my favourite character out of everyone, left his family behind and because of that, Kai would not trust him and kept insulting him by calling him an 'honourless, family-betraying creature'. It just struck me as odd because if your relationship with your family is toxic, I don't blame Vale at all for not wanting to connect with them anymore.


Moving back characters that were not utilized well, or rather could have been developed better, the same could be said for Silva and Bradamant. Starting with Silva, he is a fae who is initially depicted as being very alluring and dangerous, and I rather liked that angle. That pretty much went down the drain when he started acting overly dramatic at times and looked more pompous than mysterious.


With Bradamant, I think she could have been a very good 'bitchy' character if she was written well. Unfortunately, her character just ended up being wishy-washy because her goals and motivations didn't completely add up. She would do anything for the library, but will also step on other librarians and potentially sabotage the mission as well.



CONCLUDING THOUGHTS


Even though this turned out to not be what I expected or hoped for, I will still continue the series to see if it gets less chaotic.


If you are looking for a series with a similar plot, I would suggest The Quantum Curators and the Fabergé Egg by Eva St. John. It is very similar to this series except for the fact that this deals with curators looking for rare artifacts.

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