Sunday, June 26, 2016

Book Review: "The Invisible Library," by Genevieve Cogman

About the book:
Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant, Kai, have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen.

London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos infested -- the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something -- secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option -- because it isn't just Irene's reputation at stake; it's the nature of reality itself...

My thoughts:
The author's bio says she's a fan of Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes, and The Invisible Library is a delightful mix of both. There's a mystery to be solved, and a Holmes-like detective in London to help solve it. But this "alternate" London with all of its fantastical creatures -- including fae, dragons, werewolves and vampires -- adds a supernatural theme to this mystery. It reminds me of many books (such as Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy), but is delightfully unique at the same time. The story is fast-paced, with plenty of surprises and humorous touches. The spunky heroine and her attractive but mysterious partner play well together, and I look forward to seeing if or how their relationship (both personal and professional) develops in future books. (The next book in the series, The Masked Library, comes out in September, and I can't wait.) I haven't read a book I've been this excited about in a long time. This debut novel is a welcome addition to the fantasy (supernatural, mystery...) genre.

About the author:
Genevieve Cogman started on Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes at an early age, and has never looked back. But on a perhaps more prosaic note, she has an MSc in Statistics with Medical Applications and has wielded this in an assortment of jobs: clinical coder, data analyst, and classifications specialist. Although The Invisible Library is her debut novel, she has also previously worked as a freelance role-playing game writer. Genevieve Cogman's hobbies include patchwork, beading, knitting, and gaming, and she lives in the north of England.

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library.

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