Genre: Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - first book
Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…
Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.
Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.
Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I love it when you find a book you fall in love with, and then know you don’t have to wait for the next one. This book was a birthday present, the first in a seven book series, which was finished last year (correction: eight book series, with one more to come), so I will able to binge my way through this riotous world over the next few months.
It’s a very fast paced book, with a lot happening in its 320 pages. There are so many factions and characters stuffed into the short book, running wild and not giving Irene a moment to breathe as she tries to find a book despite everything possible standing in her way, or being forced to deal with alligators that crash a ball.
The world is a brilliant mishmash of steampunk, magic, and technology. There are computers in the Library, and in some worlds (this is a portal universe, even though we only really spend time in one world). But there are also dragons and fae, vampires and werewolves, alongside zeppelins and horse-drawn carriages. Everything imaginable manages to sit side by side in this world without feeling like a convoluted mess.
I was really impressed by how seamlessly it all fitted together. I have read books where there are lots of disparate elements that feel clumsily shoved together, but this felt perfectly reasonable within the logic of the world built. It also played nicely into the chaos vs order premise that underpins the wider-world struggle that this book introduces as the series’ overall conflict.
The relationships in this book were very interesting. There were lots of tensions between the characters, from Irene and Kai, and Irene and Bradamant, to Kai and Vale, that were a lot of fun to explore, but also were clearly only the start of their stories. There is a lot of backstory not yet explained to be explored in later books, and I’m intrigued to see where they all go, and what the romantic pairings will be at various points (I have bets with myself already).
Read my reviews of other books by Genevieve Cogman:
The Invisible Library (this series):