Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Series Spotlight: The Invisible Library

I (Jenny) discovered a hidden gem of a series this past November, thanks to the daily bombardment of Amazon kindle e-mails I receive. The name instantly caught my attention - The Invisible Library. Promising start. Couple the title with a lovely cover and an intriguing blurb, and I thought it was definitely worth $1.99 (and let's be honest, a book has to be really terrible for me to regret $1.99). I read it in two days and immediately bought the second. As soon as I finished the second, I preordered the third. This is a series of books about books... or rather, books about bookish things. What is not to love?

Some background information to begin. The main character, or protagonist in bookspeak, is a woman named Irene. She is a Librarian who works for... the Library. Her job is to retrieve books for the Library. This is where it gets interesting. Come to find out, there are tons upon tons of different worlds and the Library has doors to many of them. The Library itself is out of time —if you live there you do not age— but houses an untold number of books from various worlds. If a book is rare, dangerous, mysterious, or unique the Library needs the book for itself. That is where Irene comes in. She is one of an untold number of Librarians who retrieve books from different worlds. Some of the worlds are high chaos, some are high order, but more about those things later. Librarians have a superpower —they can command things in their secret Library language— and the work is often very dangerous. Books + Danger + Witty and Emotionally-Stable Heroine = WIN


1. The Invisible Library. The first book hits the ground running and does not slow down. The book opens with Irene out on assignment to retrieve a book from an alternate universe. She succeeds, is assigned a mysterious assistant named Kai, and is then sent out to her next mission. Irene and Kai are sent to a chaos-infested world, meaning that the fae and other supernatural creatures can live there — the more chaos, the more ability to work magic. Irene must find the book she is sent for while not blowing her cover. Too bad she runs into that world's version of Sherlock Holmes...
This book is so entertaining. If you love books and stories and story craft, you will love the many ways the author (Genevieve Cogman) plays with and incorporates them into the story. Irene is a down to earth, true to character protagonist. She is frighteningly efficient and her grammar is perfect. She is not an unfeeling robot or a Library patriot who cannot think for herself. She is simply a woman who does what needs to be done and values her friends.

2. The Masked City. The second installment finds Irene and Kai in a world similar to Venice during Carnival. Kai has been kidnapped by the fae and taken to a high world where the fae rule. This is bad on several levels, the main one being that Kai is a dragon prince and dragons are beings of order. Kai will not be able to function properly on a chaos-infested world, so Irene must act quickly to find him and rescue him. The only problem? The Library won't let her. Irene does not let this stop her. She gathers allies, makes bargains, and follows the clues to retrieve her assistant.
This book was not quite as fast paced, though the blurb makes it sound like it will be. It takes quite a lot to even get to Venice, and once there Irene has to do a lot of reconnaissance. It is interesting to see how a high chaos world functions and how the fae are bound to narratives. Very, very unique and creative characterization and world building in this one. The pacing is just a little slow. But still worth the read!

3. The Burning Page. The third book finds Irene and Kai recovering from the aftermath of the previous book. Irene is on probation after rescuing Kai without the Library's permission. This means they are getting the crap retrieval jobs. While on one of these jobs, the door to the Library they are trying to use goes up in flames, forcing them to find another door. Turns out, this is happening to Librarians across the worlds. To add insult to injury, someone is trying to kill Irene and her friend (remember the Sherlock character I mentioned?) is sick. Irene basically is trying to save everyone and everything. Good thing she is such a clever, capable, and determined lady.
I have to admit, this was my least favorite. I think because it is the middle book in the series (supposedly there will be 5) it is suffering from having to set up the rest of the series without itself being super interesting. Honestly, not a lot happens in this one. And that is okay. Sometimes you need to sacrifice one book for the greater good. And by sacrifice I only mean it cannot be as good so others can be great. That never means destroying a book.

I highly recommend this series. It is fun, engaging, and the main characters are wonderful. Irene is a no-nonsense, save myself heroine. The secondary characters are well developed and provide wonderful foils to each other and to Irene. There is a little romance, and I mean little, but it is very minor and is still developing. Maybe. Potentially. That is not the point. The point is the books. And this series. And how you should read it. Hope you will give it a try!

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