This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
Series: The Invisible Library #2
Also in this series:The Burning Page
Also by this author: The Burning Page
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Format: ARC, E-book
Purchase at: Amazon
The written word is mightier than the sword—most of the time...
Working in an alternate version of Victorian London, Librarian-spy Irene has settled into a routine, collecting important fiction for the mysterious Library and blending in nicely with the local culture. But when her apprentice, Kai, a dragon of royal descent, is kidnapped by the fae, her carefully crafted undercover operation begins to crumble.
Kai’s abduction could incite a conflict between the forces of chaos and order that would devastate all worlds and all dimensions. To keep humanity from getting caught in the crossfire, Irene will have to team up with a local fae leader to travel deep into a version of Venice filled with dark magic, strange coincidences, and a perpetual celebration of Carnival—and save her friend before he becomes the first casualty of a catastrophic war.
But navigating the tumultuous landscape of fae politics will take more than Irene’s book-smarts and fast-talking—to ward off Armageddon, she might have to sacrifice everything she holds dear...
While I was reading this book I found that there were elements reminiscent of a couple of books that I enjoyed or characters that I found memorable.
For fans of the Shades of Magic Series you would appreciate the alternate realties of the same world, including the requirements to change their appearance of fashion due to the differences.
For fans of The Great Library Series you would appreciate this book because the librarians are the keepers of neutrality and their role is to retrieve fiction from different realities, which in turn will strengthen the Library’s connection to the world from which the book was harvested from.
For fans of Sherlock Holmes or Doctor Who I feel that you will see similarities between either fictional character and the English detective in this story, Peregrine Vale. It just depends on which character you are more in favor of, ha ha ha, me personally I felt he was very reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes but not the Holmes when he is with Watson, more the Holmes that he would be when he is on the hunt.
This is a second installment in a series but I did not for one moment feel that I was missing out or needed to read the first book. It was so complete that it could be read as a standalone. The ending was one that was tidy but left the door open if we wished to see what transpired from the confrontations that occurred in this book.
“The purpose of the Library is to preserve humanity from either absolute reality or absolute unreality. And you will do this by collecting nominated books, to maintain the balance.”
The Library is the neutrality between the Fae who strive for Chaos and the Dragons who strive for order. It is the Library through connections via doors to multiple alternate worlds that helps maintain the balance. Its link with these other worlds prevents them from drifting to fast in either the direction of chaos or the direction of order. Due to these links there is a stable place for the humans to exist in the middle. Absolutely fascinating!
This installment of the series is centered around conflict. There is a conflict between two high Fae, there is a conflict within Irene, her duty to the Library versus her duty to her kidnapped apprentice (that she also considers naughty things about), and a conflict that arises between Vale, their human detective friend, and Irene. There is also the threat of conflict from the consequences that kidnapping Kai would bring between the Dragons and the Fae.
I felt that the conflicts were all nicely handled and well done. I did have a few issues with Vale’s part that he plays. Without spoiling it I will say that there were reasons given for why he was not able to join Irene on a trip but somehow he manages to be there just the same but the “mega” reasons for him not being there were not resolved. I felt that there should have been some repercussions given all the hype surrounding why he should not be where he was.
What did I love about this book? The action, the fantasy characters (fae, dragons and werewolves) and above all else the Language. Irene uses the Language to boil wine, destroy boats, tie bootlaces together and many other interesting actions. When she speaks in the Language whatever actions she asks to take place is completed. I loved Dune by Frank Herbert and in that book Paul Atreides also has a language that allows him to split his opponents or kill with just a word and I am reminded of that when I read this story.
What do I wish was different? I wanted more about the library. More about what it looked like. I wish there had been a sub-plot of having to retrieve a book from an alternate reality. I want to really understand how the retrieving of books fortifies the links between realities. I also wish there was no suggestion of a love triangle. I think Vale has a thing for Irene and Irene kept suggesting that Kai certainly did. I want him to be pretty much asexual, lol, like Holmes. I know he had a thing for Irene Adler but it was his only thing. I would be very disappointed if this series took a turn for the jilted romance angle. We have enough of that type of writing already.
I did thoroughly enjoy the flipping of the trope rescuing the damsel in distress on its backside! The heroine of this story was clearly in charge of rescuing her hmmm, apprentice, err love interest, sigh maybe lust interest, ha ha ha, whatever he may be, he is indeed the mister in distress and she is charging in there to rescue him. There is even a fairy tale aspect to this story about a horse and it’s rider and the main character is utilizing the horse as her escape….just lovely writing. It is a very interesting story and will keep you entertained from beginning to end.
*Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group & NetGalley for this eARC of The Masked City*