The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (book review).

January 15, 2015 | By | Reply More

‘The Invisible Library’ is book one in a proposed trilogy or possibly longer series of books.


Let me introduce you to Irene. She works for The Library, collecting books from different worlds for use by other Librarians or simply to add to the Library collection. The reason for collecting these books could be one of many, from simply being interesting for research to it being the only copy of a particular book anywhere in the known worlds that could potentially form a link between that world and The Library. Each of these worlds has a balance within it between chaos and order, chaos being brought by the Fae and order being brought by dragons. It seems that if a world has a lot of magic in the form of lots of Fae, werewolves, etc and also a lot of scientific development it is likely to be highly chaotic as the two war against each other. Incidentally, dragons can look like the traditional giant scaly beast or they seem to be able to take on a much more human visage, with possible oddly coloured eyes.

In order for Irene to steal books, she poses as various different people from a school servant to a socialite, anything goes when you’re trying to retrieve a book. In this instance, Irene is accompanied by a completely new student in the arts of The Library, Kai, who seems to have a bit of a shady and interesting past. When I say new, he has been working in The Library for about five years but time works differently in The Library, as in it doesn’t really move much at all. Irene needs to get her hands on a copy of ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’ with a mysterious previously unknown story. Unfortunately, this turns out not to be an easy assignment as people fall dead at every turn, alongside other Librarians turning up out of the blue, not to mention that this world happens to be chaos infested.

I found that there was a lot to learn in this book. In fact, I found myself getting really confused quite often as I tried to understand all the different elements to do with chaos and the different types of beings in the worlds. There was also a lot to learn about how magic works in the worlds as there seems to be magic and also Librarian magic, which is based on using the true words for objects known as Language. This means that if a trained Librarian (you can tell who they are because they have a Library tattoo on their body) asks a lock to open using the Language then it will immediately do so. Oh and you also need to try and remember the myths and legends about The Library, dragons, Fae and all sorts of other things. You can probably see now why I was so confused.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the book, it was well-written and I would love to read the others in the series. However, I felt that there was too much world-building and basically too much everything in this first book. It was almost as if the writer was scared they would only get to write one book so stuffed everything into this slim volume. Overall, I came to the conclusion that this was something like a combination of ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Warehouse 13’ and a steam punk drama. This helped me make sense of some elements. I’m hoping that the other books in the series aren’t quite as information dense as this one.

I would like to read the other books in the series, if only to find out more about The Library and maybe to have more scenes take place within its confines. I’d also love to find out more about Kai and his ‘family’, oh and Irene’s mother and father as well. Overall, not a bad book, just a little over-enthusiastic with the detail.

Sarah Bruch

December 2014

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(pub: TOR-UK. 329 page paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISN: 978-1-44725-623-6)

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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