Name: The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1)
Author: Genevieve Cogman
Number of Pages: 337 (ebook)
Published: December 15th 2014 by Pan
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.
The story begins with a library, but not one of the usual variety. The Invisible Library is a place of magic and mystery, and as the name suggests, it contains many, many books. It also has links to a great variety of alternate worlds in which some of these books resided prior to their residence in the Library.
Irene is a junior agent of the Library and tasked with novice Kai to venture to an alternate London to retrieve a manuscript, a certain edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It’s like a Victorian steampunk version of London, so I loved the feel of the place. Not only that, it’s a world with a chaos infestation, so all you think you know may not apply. Retrieving the book should be simple, but it turns out that actually it’s already been stolen so Irene and Kai set out to find it before they return to the Library.
The Library is a great place, and I hope more time is spent there as the series continues. The whole endless supply of books, both magical and mundane, drawn from all these alternate worlds is fascinating. Initiates of the library have agelessness conveyed upon them while they’re within the walls. They do age gradually as they go out into alternate worlds but could in theory have some degree of immorality if at some point they decide to stay within the library.
There’s a lot going on in this novel – a murder mystery (a vampire murder actually), the theft of the manuscript, and the presence of the dangerous but alluring Fae, creatures of chaos. A famous detective is on the same trail as our leads and a legendary former Library agent gone rogue may be in the vicinity. To complicate things further a colleague/rival of Irene’s who may be more involved than she’s letting on appears in this alternate world. And then of course there are the werewolves and mechanical centipedes and zeppelins flying around the place.
There characters are a great mix, from Irene and Kai, who is also more than he first appears, to the Great Detective Peregrine Vale and Irene’s friend/colleague/rival/former mentor Bradamant. The latter was interesting, their initial dislike based on a shared past turning to reluctantly needing to work together to retrieve the book. I hope these characters cross paths again as the series continues, and that more of their history is revealed.
The Invisible Library is a good beginning to a series that I’m looking forward to discovering. Anything themed around books and libraries and alternate fantasy worlds is going to get my reading attention, and as Irene was dispatched with new orders at the end of this novel, I was almost as pleased as she was that there is more to look forward to in this world of magic and adventure and books.