Book Review: THE MASKED CITY by Genevieve Cogman

Title in white in a white border on red leather
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - second book



Book cover for THE MASKED CITY: title in white on red with a border of dragons and people in old clothing

Librarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he’s been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds.

Kai’s dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people – and the forces of order and chaos themselves.

Irene’s mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it’s always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


The second book in The Invisible Library series, THE MASKED CITY is an absolute romp of faced paced action, duplicitous fae that you can never be sure which side are they on (Silver is a character I’m fast wanting to see more of), and Irene pushed to her limits as she tries to save Kai and stop a war.

The primary world of this storey was so much fun. It’s an alternative, magical Venice, in a world where everyone plays into stereotypes to fit melodramatic stories. Venice is always a fun location – carnival! Masks! – but toss in magic and a world that leans towards the city being more. Mist rising from the lagoon, secret society clambering around. It’s super indulgent, and I loved it.

You can tell the author had so much fun writing it and these overly dramatic characters who bounce between archetypes. It fits the world so well, as the rules are clearly laid out, so it doesn’t feel excessive such that it pulls you from the story – rather it feels like a lot of fun being poked at conventions. (Apparently this is a trend that will only get leant into more in the coming books and I am so ready for that!)

Beyond just the characters acting as archetypes, I loved how language and story telling played into this book, particularly with the Horse. We got to see more of the Language of Irene’s magic, and how it could be shaped to form truth through stories. It’s such a fun magic system, and her constant wish for refresher courses so she know the different parts of a boat was relatable, as was her desire for a notebook to take notes so she could give a proper report later.

The book certainly ends on quite the cliff-hanger, so I am very glad I can dive right into the third book to see how it pans out.

Read my reviews of other books by Genevieve Cogman:

The Invisible Library (this series):

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