The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Librarians, Fairies, and Dragons, Oh My!
Welcome to the Invisible Library, an organization that rescues books and preserves them forever. They are, as their name implies, an unseen force that can maneuver between alternate universes using an elite group of time-traveling Librarian spies. Yes, you read that right – time-traveling Librarian spies hopping between universes to save important pieces of literature. It’s just as fun as it sounds.
The protagonist is Irene, the daughter of two successful Librarians, determined to leave her legacy on The Invisible Library. As she moves up the ranks, her mentor gives her a new task – train a new Librarian named Kai, a gorgeous man with a big secret. Despite being a commercial novel and the previous sentence sounding like the beginning of a Harlequin story, this story does not fall into the conventional traps of other popular novels. Irene firmly draws the line in professionalism versus personal relationships. She won’t deny that she’s human and sees him as incredibly attractive. To her though, there is a time and place when to indulge in human relations. That time is not when they are on assignment in a steampunk Victorian London universe, trying to save another precious book. However, they aren’t the only ones on assignment here and there is an old, dark force lurking in the shadows.
This book will not disappoint readers wanting to disappear into an alternate world this summer. The characters are fun and fleshed out. Irene and Kai are sympathetic enough to relate to, but strong enough to stand as the needed heroes of this story. The secondary characters, including the dashing Lord Silver, create an almost Sherlock-esque setting that, when mixed the fantastical elements, delivers something fans of Doctor Who and BBC’s Sherlock will enjoy. There is also an enjoyable detective who is very human, but is their strongest ally against the fantastic forces they find themselves up against.
The fantastical elements are enjoyable and delightfully over-the-top when it comes to a fun romp around London. Fairies move around the city like respected diplomats while other fairy tale creatures roam the streets like drunkards after a rough day in the factory. The ones our main characters interact with are unique and fitting to their fantastical races. Vampires are seductive while Dragons are stoic and Werewolves are short-tempered. Cogman uses creatures we know from basic fantasy lore, which allowed me to follow the plot and not get bogged down by world details.
Cogman also weaves a unique brand of magic into her story, showing the true power of words. Librarians have this ability to utilizes something called The Language, a unique pronunciation of words in the English language, that allow them to manipulate items to do their bidding. This magical element takes the strength of literature to a level that will make any bookworm squeal with delight. I felt this is where Cogman’s creativity really bloomed. The Language takes the idea of spell-casting to a more literary level that is very fitting for a story revolving around books.
The Invisible Library is a great first novel in a promising new series. The story ends with the conclusion of one adventure and a list of questions. These questions will be answered in the series to come. I can’t wait for The Masked City, coming out later this year.
4 Librarians out of 5