The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. ★★★
Irene works for the Library, an organization outside of time and space that collects books from across alternate realities of Earth. Right as she gets back from one assignment, she’s sent out on another, along with a new apprentice, Kai. Irene and Kai are supposed to find and retrieve a mysterious book, but they soon find that the book’s owner has been murdered and the book has vanished. To make matters worse, they aren’t the only ones looking for it.
The Invisible Library was a light, almost fluffy story. I could see comparisons to Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books, except I didn’t find it as humorous or frankly as weird. A comparison to Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate minus some of the romance focus might be more accurate, since the world Irene and Kai end up in turns out to be steampunk themed and to contain vampires, werewolves, and fae.
Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of steampunk, especially when it throws in the most common of urban fantasy creatures. I feel like a lot of books in the genre just regurgitate the look and feel of steampunk without ever putting a whole lot of thought into their world and what makes it different from all the other steampunk stories out there. It also felt like Cogman started out with the idea of “steampunk with supernatural creatures” and then tried to create the magic system/world building to explain it, which didn’t work very well.
I found the beginning promising. The whole idea of the Library is interesting, and Irene seems sensible and thoroughly capable. However, by the last third I found myself skimming.
While I liked Irene all right for the whole book, I never warmed to any of the other characters. The supporting staff never seemed to move much beyond stock types (genius detective, sexy supernatural guy, ect.). The supporting cast was also almost entirely male. Besides Irene, there’s only one reappearing female character, and she’s Irene’s rival. She fits into a ton of the “bitchy mean girl” tropes. You know the ones.
Still, The Invisible Library wasn’t terrible. I did enjoy it some at the beginning, and even when I was bored by the end, it never entered the realms of horrible. It’s also a book that I could see other people enjoying, maybe those who like steampunk more than I do. It might still be worth picking up if you’re looking for a light read, but it’s not a series I’m planning on continuing with.
I received a copy of The Invisible Library from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.