Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of 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… (goodreads.com)
I absolutely adore this book. I don’t adore books often, but when I do I ADORE them. Cogman has balanced whimsical, dark, funny, daring, crushing, romantic tension, suspense, and thrills fantastically. And the world she’s created OMG I love it. LOVE IT.
After coming off of Rachel Caine’s book with a similar concept of an all-powerful library controlling the world, I was a little skeptical. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But this idea that at the center of these multiverses sits the most expansive library ever (we’re talking like it could literally take you years to walk from one end to the other) and within it are highly trained librarians who are sent out into these various worlds to hunt down books that would be beneficial to the library to have . . . Evie would be jealous.
And then these infinite number of multiverses branch out from the center of this library like spokes from a wheel and only Librarians, who have their own powerful language, can traverse the universes and none of the universes know about each other or the Library itself. Time stands still in the Library and people don’t age. If Librarians happen to have children (which they don’t very often) they have to send them to school in one of the universes so they’ll grow up. If someone is injured and tended to in the Library they have to go into one of the universes to heal. People live for literary hundreds of years within the library and when they’re ready to retire (aka die) they choose a universe and go and live out the rest of their days there. I just . . . I love it.
Most of the Librarians are recruited from the various worlds, including Irene’s student, Kai (who is totally dreamy and I don’t normally get book boyfriends but he’s one of the few I do have). She’s assigned to take him on this mission to retrieve a very specific copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales from a world overrun by Chaos. In this book Chaos is a malevolent force that usually brings with is very disruptive fairies and other insidious creatures that overrun the world, but which the occupants ultimately view as normal, effectively corrupting people. And if a Librarian is corrupted by Chaos in some way, they’re not allowed back into the Library until the corruption is removed, which is what happens to Irene and Kai and their mission ends up going tits up real quick.
The mission ends up evolving well beyond anything they, or the Library, could have expected and things get rough. Cogman does get pretty dark, but the tone she maintains throughout the book is, like I said above, practically whimsical. But it’s not pretentious nor does it invoke some kind of Austenian flare. It’s just light and lends itself to some drier humor despite the things happening in the story.
I loved being in Irene’s head because throughout the story she’s this very composed, very professional woman that plays everything by the book. Yet in her head she’s effectively drooling over Kai and cursing people left right and center. But she filters all that out by the time the thoughts get out of her mouth so she always appears to be the air of professionalism, or whatever her cover requires her to be. She thinks fast on her feet and always at least gives the appearance of having a solution even though she might not.
Totally adding the next book to my reading list. Because things were left off at the end that I really need answers to and the little snippet of the next book there totally got my attention. Ugh. I haven’t felt like this about a book in a long time. It’s a great feeling. Read THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY immediately. If you’re a book lover you will love it. If you’re a world-building lover you’ll love it. If you have eyes you’ll love it.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.