This time, its personal!
In her second instalment, Cogman leads us deeper into the worlds of dragons and Fae and deeper into chaos! Irenes second big quest again has her confronted with the two forces the Library is trying to keep in balance: the dragons and the Fae. This time, however, it is not a mission from the Library, but something very persona... In her second instalment, Cogman leads us deeper into the worlds of dragons and Fae and deeper into chaos! Irenes second big quest again has her confronted with the two forces the Library is trying to keep in balance: the dragons and the Fae. This time, however, it is not a mission from the Library, but something very personal, which makes her abandon her only recently acquired post as Librarian-in-Residence in an alternate London to follow a couple of scheming Fay into a world of high-chaos manifestation. The main question present throughout the book is whether dragons and Fae can be trusted. As a Librarian, Irene is not supposed to ally with either side, especially not with the Fae, but her current mission leaves her out of options. Not only is she forced to rely on different Fae among them Lord Silver, one of the previous instalments antagonists but Irene also has to pretend to be one of them herself in order to save someone close to her. And preventing a possible war between dragons and Fae would be a bonus. While there are also some insights into the world of the dragons, the main focus lies on the Fae and their motives. I found it very interesting how the Fae take on different roles and archetypes and see their lives as well as those of others in terms of stories, making humans act as supporting characters in their own narrative. Furthermore, The Masked City also features some less dangerous and less manipulative Fae, who are still on their way to choosing their role and finding their narrative, which leaves me intrigued to see whether Irene will maybe make friends among the Fae as well, even though they are allegedly pure chaos. I generally think the Fae make for very interesting antagonists. Lord Silver's flare for drama never fails to entertain, and among Lord and Lady Guantes, the couple posing a threat to Irene, it strikes me as worth mentioning what kind of attitude Lady Guantes has: she does not think that they harm people by making them obey their will, as she argues that people want stories and the possibility of a happy ending rather than the certainty that they will never be happy. In a way, they are the heroes of their own narrative, even though they might be considered villains from someone elses point of view. In addition, I liked the location of the climactic part of the story in a parallel version of Venice, with carnival masks and fights on top of gondolas and beautiful descriptions of the venue. The city is described as something out of a fairy tale or a dream, with houses out of bricks and marble, and thousands of colourful lights at night, while the city itself gleams in the daylight. And among the buildings that are important to the plot, there is, of course, also a huge library! Its outer and inner appearance is depicted in great detail when Irene tries to find refuge between its bookshelves and discovers something entirely else in the process As a whole, I think I enjoyed the second instalment even more than the first one, even though The Invisible Library itself was already a marvellous read. I just found the pacing had improved and I liked the stronger focus on the world of the Fae, after having been introduced to the Library, its tasks and some of Irenes fellow Librarians in the first instalment. Im already very excited for the third part, The Burning Page, and I hope that other dragons beside Kai will become more prominent, while I would also like to see some of the Fae of The Masked City again as they strive to fulfil their narratives. I can only whole-heartedly recommend this series!
The Masked City
The Invisible Library
The second title in Genevieve Cogman's The Invisible Library series, The Masked City is a wonderful read for all those who enjoyed Mr Penumbra's 24 hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair or Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London.
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.
The Masked City contains bonus extra content – secrets from the Library! Continue the bookish magic with The Burning Page.
I absolutely loved this ... flavored with truly unique mythology and a dash of the eldritch. Such clever, creepy, elaborate worldbuilding and snarky, sexy-smart characters! N. K. Jemisin on The Invisible Library (Book One)