Book Review

The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman

When it’s your job to save the day – where do you start?

Librarian spy Irene has standards to maintain, especially while on probation. And absconding from a mission via a besieged building doesn’t look good. But when her escape route home goes up in flames, what’s a spy to do? However, it seems Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across dozens of worlds. Worse still, her nemesis Alberich is responsible – and he plans to annihilate the Library itself.

Irene and assistant Kai are posted to St Petersburg, to help combat this threat. Here Alberich emerges, as Irene tries to save her friend Vale and foil assassination attempts. Then one incredibly dangerous opportunity to save the Library emerges. Saving herself would be a bonus…

I’m three novels into Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series, and I. Am. Hooked.  The characters, the setting, the world building, the magic – it’s such a fantastic concept, and I love getting lost in Cogman’s richly imagined world(s). 

Each novel so far has taken the reader to a different location.  This might be for Irene and assistant, Kai, to gather information, steal acquire a particular tome for the Library, or, as with the previous novel, to attempt a rescue mission.  The first novel introduced an alternative London, while the second novel took us to Venice.  In The Burning Page, the reader – and Irene and Kai – visit St Petersburg.  Each location is brilliantly brought to life, staying true to its character whilst highlighting the differences to the world we know through the use and / or restriction of magic.  Visiting somewhere different in each novel helps to keep the series fresh, but also allows Cogman to experiment with different set ups.  Some locations are more aligned to chaos or order, some are more technologically advanced while others have a more historical vibe.  It works brilliantly to keep the reader – and Irene – on their toes. 

In the three books I’ve read, I’ve enjoyed seeing the politics develop and become increasingly complex.  The first novel introduces the reader to the concept of the Library as well as the Library’s – and, by extension, Irene’s – arch-nemesis, Alberich.  Book two provides more detail on the Dragons and the Fae and their mutual distaste for each other – an ongoing contest in which the Library claims neutrality.  In The Burning Page, Irene must face not only Alberich and his dastardly plans, but must also walk that line between the Dragons and the Fae, something which is becoming increasingly difficult when her actions in the second novel attracted so much attention from both sides.  I sympathise with Irene – it’s hard to maintain neutrality, and events in this novel do push her allegiances somewhat. 

As I’m sure you’ve gathered, I’m a big fan of Irene.  She’s a fantastic character, and I love her determination not to be the damsel in distress.  She’s more than capable of looking after herself, however much the men around her seem to want to shield her from harm.  Noble though their intentions may be, Irene is having none of it, and I love her perseverance and determination to do the right thing, even if she is putting herself at risk. I’ve enjoyed seeing Irene develop throughout the series so far.  She’s grown in confidence, particularly after her adventures in Venice, and is becoming a force to be reckoned with, as Alberich is about to find out.  This novel sets the scene for certain developments in the next novel, and while I don’t want to spoil it, I’m VERY excited about what is to come in the next instalment, The Lost Plot

The Invisible Library Series:

  1. The Invisible Library
  2. The Masked City
  3. The Burning Page
  4. The Lost Plot
  5. The Mortal Word
  6. The Secret Chapter
  7. The Dark Archive (coming December 2020)
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