Book Review: THE BURNING PAGE by Genevieve Cogman

Title in gold on pale yellow with border
Genre: Portal Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - book 3



Book cover for THE BURNING CITY: title in orange with a border of tigers and a man and woman in period clothing

Librarian spy Irene has professional standards to maintain. Standards that absolutely do not include making hasty, unplanned escapes through a burning besieged building. But when the gateway back to your headquarters dramatically malfunctions, one must improvise. And after fleeing a version of Revolutionary France astride a dragon (also known as her assistant, Kai), Irene soon discovers she’s not the only one affected. Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across a multitude of worlds, creating general havoc. She and Kai are tasked with a mission to St Petersburg’s Winter Palace, to retrieve a book which will help restore order.

However, such plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy – particularly when the enemy is the traitor Alberich. A nightmare figure bent on the Library’s destruction, Alberich gives Irene a tainted ‘join me or die’ job offer. Meanwhile, Irene’s old friend Vale has been damaged by exposure to Chaotic forces and she has no idea how to save him. When another figure from her past appears, begging for help, Irene has to take a good hard look at her priorities. And of course try to save the Library from absolute annihilation. Saving herself would be a bonus.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


THE BURNING LIBRARY is another rapid-fire adventure, that tangles Irene, Kai, and their friends in a web of lies and danger. It was a hard book to predict what would happen next, as the fun thing about this series is how flexible the rules of the world are. Given the chaos/order dichotomy, and the characters playing into that, it leaves a lot of freedom for events to suddenly flip around and yet feel perfectly normal. It’s an unpredictability that keeps you on the tips of your toes while reading.

I don’t usually get very invested in romances – it’s not something I’m interested in as a rule – but Irene and Kai’s tangled relationship is one I can’t wait to see develop into romance. At the moment, it’s a friendship with lots of protectiveness and mutual respect, and a healthy dose of subtext around why they won’t take it any further (for now). It’s not pining, but it does add a layer to their relationship, and I 100% know it will go somewhere at some point.

And I really want them to get together, as they’re such a nice couple. However, and what I’m really glad is present in this series, is that the reasons for them not getting together (e.g. Irene is technically Kai’s teacher) are 100% logical. The obstacles are not present purely for the purpose of creating “drama”, which is a cheap tension tactic I loathe. Instead, I am invested in them getting together, but understand and like that they currently aren’t.

I’m not entirely sure how this series was sold to the publisher. It’s currently contracted for 8 books, but I assume that it was sold in several sales. Judging by the structure of this book (and the last two), I’m guessing the first sale was a trilogy, that was then added to while the third book was being drafted/in edits.

Why? Well, the Library is under threat in this book. It’s a big “end of series” level threat, but then the ending (final chapter, really) is incredibly open and 100% feels like it needs another book to finish it off. If it had more closure, then I’d assume the series was continued once this book was done with development edits. (This is more a curiosity note from me than anything else.)

Now for a short(ish) break from this series to read THE BONE SEASON books ahead of the next instalment being published, but I’m excited to keep reading as I pestered a friend into giving me a spoiler for the next one…

Read my reviews of other books by Genevieve Cogman:

The Invisible Library (this series):

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