I’m kinda tired of fantasy. Not that they have all gone bad nor that the genre has any issues or anything like that. I just feel done with it these days, done and bored and annoyed by it. Then somebody mean and thoughtful and gorgeous and intent on taking away my spare time gave me The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman, and I was hooked, hooked I say you. So hooked that it made my recommended list, which is something I keep inside my head for when people ask me silly questions like ‘I don’t know any good books, do you?’ or ‘Can I ask you about your relationship to Jesus?’, you know… the usual stuff one encounters in day to day conversation. The Amazon blurb really does live up to its hype that “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.“
5 Reasons to Read: The Invisible Library
The book just happens to include:
- … a dimension hopping secret agent/spy/thief/librarian person, that is part of an organisation that (appears) to exists solely to collect and protect the most important books (of course, that would be most books but who am I to argue). As a professed bibliophile, I am completely hooked.
- … dragons and fae and magic and airships and our experience is not an all-knowing one where all these wonders are normalised, but one mediated through the main character Irene, whose personality and choices manage to get on both my good and bad sides.
- … funny internal (and external) dialogue that grounds the characters decisions (and indecision) in the most human of all traits; to massively overthink everything and to doubt the selected course of action. Irene is a real person and acts like a real person should or would or could. And then chats about it. It’s wonderful and fun and distracting within the book itself.
- … excellent world building that allows for actions to have actual personal consequences, explanations for why certain events do or don’t have consequences, why we recognise it and why it’s exotic or foreign. It’s explained in-world why we feel at home and why we should get excited about this particular reality.
- … recognisable literary characters which feel like clear homages to their literary lineage without becoming boring, nor does it feel like rehashing or reusing the work of others. The story reads like it’s written by a true lover of books. Since the book is set in an alternate reality London, the potential for future encounters are broad and exciting indeed.
If I should fault it for anything, its the lack of a proper big baddie. The big baddie feels flat and vindictive for no reason (yet), but within the context of a first book suffices to bring about a sense of threat and drama that works without being overplayed or underplayed. The other “real” enemies in the book (no spoilers, I promise) feel fleshed out and very immediate so I can forgive the big bad for staying in the wings for now. I have book two ready to go anyway. It’s my Christmas read. And book three popped onto my Kindle a week ago, so its about time. So as long as your can accept that book one is an origin story, I would highly recommend The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman.
But what do you think? Is The Invisible Library as trite as most fantasy and I’m just a little bit deluded? I might be deluded anyway, I mean who really knows. Let me know!