Review of The Masked City – Book 2 of The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman

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I recently completed The Invisible Library and loved it – see my review here. So I tracked down this sequel at our local library, full of anticipation as most of my blogging buddies said it was even better than the first book.

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.

Irene, the cool, rather detached protagonist who is starting to work her way up the Library hierarchy as her work is starting to come to the attention of those who matter – is no longer cool or detached. Her young, impulsive and very powerful assistant, Kai, has been kidnapped and she is tasked with the job of retrieving him. Just to add to the gravity of the situation, Kai is a dragon prince. And the immensely powerful dragons will take it as a declaration of war if they can prove it is the Fae who are at the bottom of the kidnapping.

I love the setup here. The dragon-controlled worlds tend to be very organised and logical, whereas those run by the Fae are infested with chaos, so by their very nature, dragons and Fae loathe and distrust each other. The Library and its staff try to keep neutral between the two factions – that’s the theory, anyway. But they, too, cannot cope with worlds permeated wholly by Fae-inspired chaos, which can twist and poison their purpose.

So Irene sets off in pursuit of Kai as part of Lord Silver’s entourage, a Fae lord, who is opposed to the faction who have kidnapped the young dragon prince. The world she ends up in approximates to a Victorian Venice, complete with St Mark’s Square and a Campanile. This story is brimming with incident and tension throughout – it would make a marvellous film – as Irene has to battle her way through a hostile landscape to try and discover where Kai is being kept. The slight steampunk flourishes that appear in the first book are given a fuller rein here, particularly during a marvellous chase in magical train.

It was almost painful to put this book down as the story pulled me in and held me captivated until the end, which is also very well handled. For fans of well-told alternate world stories with strong magical systems and lots of tension.
10/10

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19 responses »

  1. I still have to read the first book. So many books….So glad you loved this second one, Sarah. I need to tell my sister about this series too. She’d love them.

    • Yes, I really think she would, Laura:). The character is enjoyable and I am particularly impressed with the magic system which has major consequences for the people inhabiting the various worlds – I also like the fact that the balance is fluid and can be destabilised… Which makes absolutely sense if you think about it.

  2. Oh, I so need to start this series! I just need more hours on the day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, glad the series is so consistently good:-)

    • lol… I regularly feel that way when I drop in and visit the books you are reading, Tammy:). That said, I’m very, very glad that I took the advice and started reading this series – it is very impressive.

  3. Ok , this sounds fun , compared to Dresden files , would you call this book series similar , better , or not as good ?

    • Hm… that’s a tricky question. It isn’t straight urban fantasy for starters. This series is organised around a magical library which gathers books, often sneakily from the portal worlds around it in an attempt to keep the forces of order and chaos balanced as much as possible. We follow the fortunes of one of these young spies in the Library’s employ. Irene doesn’t have the snappy, dry humour of Dresden, though there are flashes of sardonic humour – she is something of a loner, which she and Dresden have in common. But I would say she is less convivial by nature. The adventures occur in a variety of portal worlds, but there is a sense that the balance is always precarious and increasingly shifting.

      I personally think so far that the series is as good, but in a very different way.

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