Title: The Invisible Library by Genevieve CogmanPublisher: Roc Penguin
Genre: mystery, time travel, science fiction, steam punk, fantasy, fiction
This is the debut fantasy novel of the English writer Genevieve Cogman. The series continues with Masked City due out September, Burning Page December 2016; the fourth and fifth are already in progress. She has an MSc in statistics with Medical Applications and works for the NHS. It’s obvious her early reading included Tolkien, Conan Doyle and Pratchett.
Irene Winters is a professional spy (junior agent and immortal) for The Library, a shadowy organisation in between worlds which preserves (collects) unique fiction from all realities, alternate worlds. She and her new assistant Kai step into an alternative Victorian London to retrieve a dangerous book/manuscript by Grimm, currently owned by a bibliophile vampire. She is a spunky, loyal, smart heroine, raised in the Library system (both her parents still work there). From her first book retrieval I was captivated and loved her wicked sense of humour as well as her joy in reading. It’s a dangerous job on so many levels.
This is a fast, easy read that is clever, fascinating, exciting and imaginative. There are dirigibles, fae, vampires, dragons, werewolves, and Sherlock (aka the dashing Peregrine Vale, 15th Earl of Leeds). It is rather an eclectic mix of magic, Victorian mundane, steampunk tech and literary humor which makes you easily suspend reality. Initially I thought it was a YA novel with fast pace, simplistic story and technology, but i suspect it is more that it feels like a series. Strong world building, with detailed descriptions, interesting and numerous characters, convoluted twists with a short timeline (taking place in several days), will also make the next two novels easier. It would have also helped if I’d had read the appendix on agent handbook first. The mysterious library, a character in itself, balances the worlds between fae (chaos) and dragons (order) and gives humans a chance. I’m glad the sequels are coming out this year and will definitely pick them up. Especially as Irene is heading back to Victorian London, Kai gets kidnapped by fae, and…!
If you liked Samantha Shannon The Mime Order, Lisa Unger Ink and Bone, Shadow scale, Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate or Jasper Fforyde’s Thursday Next series
If you are a fan of Dr Who
Cogman highly recommends Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London 2011 (which I need to find).
…but one of the Library’s mottos was borrowed directly from the great military thinker Clausewitz: no strategy ever survived contact with the enemy. Or, in the vernacular, Things Will Go Wrong. Be Prepared.
“Open to the Library,” she said, giving the word Library its full value in the Language, and felt the tattoo scrawled across her back shift and writhe as the link was established.
She just wanted—had always wanted—a good book to read.
It was about finding unique works of fiction and saving them in a place out of time and space.
But when she’d signed up for eternity, she hadn’t quite expected to spend most of it revising vocabulary lists.
He had the sort of beauty that instantly shifted him from a possible romance object to an absolute impossibility.
For the moment, we’ll have to assume he understands that we know all.” “All?” “We are the Library,” Coppelia pointed out.“What we don’t know, we research. Now tell me the rest.”
Librarian in Residence was a post of some responsibility.
Or possibly possessiveness was a characteristic of draconic affection. They were supposed to be hoarders, after all. Not so different from Librarians.
The known worlds are ranged on a spectrum from order to chaos.
The purpose of the Library is to preserve humanity from either absolute reality or absolute unreality.
Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley, Available from Rochester Public Library (and as Ebooks).