Book Review

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

the invisible library

Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option –the nature of reality itself is at stake.

I love the concept behind this series.  The idea of a Library that exists outside of time and for which the Librarians travel to different realities in order to collect different books – the more obscure the better – is one that I think will appeal to most book lovers.

All of us who are sealed to the Library are people who have chosen this way of life because we loved books

It did take me a little while to grasp exactly how it all works, as the novel opens with Irene close to the end of a mission, thereby launching you straight into this world – or worlds – with little introduction.  If you find yourself not quite getting it in the opening chapters, stick with it!  Irene’s initial mission is soon wrapped up, and the pace then slows a little as she is assigned a new mission and an assistant who she is to mentor.  This allows Cogman to provide a little more detail around the how and the why, which makes everything clearer without getting in the way of the narrative.

Irene is a such a fantastic character.  A relatively junior Librarian, the opening chapters give a great insight into her character, and I came to love her more as the novel progressed.  She is resourceful and determined, although I did think that she was quite accepting of the status quo.  It’s clear that she has some questions about her role, and the Library as a whole, and I expect to see her become more openly inquisitive as the series progresses.  Irene quite often has to bite her tongue throughout the novel – partly because her mission is set in a Victorian-esque world with all of the usual traditions and inequality that entails, but also with a more experienced Librarian that she does not get along with.  I loved these insights – her inner thoughts and what she’d like to say are quite often amusing.  I’d like to see her speak her mind more in subsequent novels, but that’s because I like a character who says what she thinks.

The Invisible Library is the start of what I think will be an incredible series.  It has action and adventure, an arch-villain and a cunning detective, a potential love interest, and – perhaps most importantly – books and the mother of all Libraries!  It really does have it all, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes in the second instalment, The Masked City.


    1. Thank you, Claire! I’ve just ordered book two, and can’t wait to get back to Irene and Kai!

  1. This series is such a lot of fun, and it’s great watching the characters and worldbuilding develop in the later books. Lots to look forward to!

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