One Spy. One dangerous book. One deadly mission.
Please note, this review does contain spoilers.
Another book I discovered while scrolling through #bookstagram. The cover caught my eye with the gold accents and the interesting font used. Also, I’m not going to lie, the title makes it evident the story is about a library – as a lover of books and everything to do with them it seemed like a safe bet.
Unsurprisingly my assumption was correct – oh what great skills of deductions I possess! The Invisible Library is an immense inter-dimensional, well…library located in an eerily empty, timeless street. The Librarians travel to alternative worlds and universes to collect special versions or editions of certain books, to hoard for currently unknown reasons. It may be a good time to point out that this is the first of a series; I am hoping the motives behind the activities of The Library are eventually explained.
The main character is a librarian called Irene who is very easy to like. Her inner monologue is at time hilarious, and I often thought I would make the same comments. We first meet her at the end of a mission where her smarts and quick thinking help get her out of trouble, establishing herself as a resourceful and competent librarian. Initially her location is in an all boys school for magic, so the scene is set for all kinds of possibilities in the course of the rest of the book, and rest assured, Cogman delivers.
The narrative is captivating and the influence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is evident in the manner in which Irene acts – as she is a fan of the detective novel herself – and in the character of Vale. This does not detract from the story, combined with the setting of a subtly steampunk Victorian England with overriding veins of magic and magical beasts, and Kai; they all combine to create a vivid and fantastic world – easy to fall into.
One of my favourite aspects of the story was how Irene’s love of books was explained (examples of this can be found in the “Favourite quotes” section below), this was another part of her I could wholeheartedly. And from the way those passages read, it is evident that Cogman feels the same.
While I enjoyed the world created in the book, I felt one I had finished that the story itself could have been more intense however, looking back on it I guess Cogman wanted to create intrigue for the following books. Which she has successfully done as I will be buying the others at some point in the future.
I am hesitant to admit, and please note this paragraph has HUGE spoilers……………….you have been warned………..I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending. Irene is told she and Kai can go back to that same world to hang out with Vale and tie up “a few loose ends in the investigation”. Don’t get me wrong, the three of them have a really good dynamic – and I think an inevitable love triangle – but I want to see more worlds. I shall have to get the second book in the series too see if I get my wish.
Favourite quotes from the book:
The atmosphere of the place soothed her automatically; the rich lantern lights, the sheer scent of paper and leather, and the fact that everywhere she looked. There were books, beautiful books.
There was a room of fabulous woods and bone…He had scales in the hollows of his cheeks and on the backs of his hands, as fine as feathers or hair. He had claws, manicured to a mother-of-pearl sheen.
Above, through the surface of the water, streetlamps glimmered in hazy balls of white and orange.
She’d always wondered, or even daydreamed, what it was like to actually work with great detectives, rather than just read about them. It was more annoying than she’d expected.
…and surrounded by comforting walls and walls of books. The rich, delightful smell of old paper, leather and ink permeated the place, washing away yje pettier odours of blood and oil and smog.