Book Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

I have meant to read this book for ages now, and I finally picked it up. I wasn’t disappointed. The book was a positive surprise. It has been a long time since I have been sucked deep into the story, finding the characters and the setting compelling. This was such an occasion. The Invisible Library hit every mark of a good entertaining book, which has a correct balance of easy to read and yet not inconsequential. As the name entails, it has that stereotypical librarian wit with literary references and a passion for books and tea. But it is not too over the top or snobbish. Oh, of course, I could complain about things like naivety and clichéd settings and plot devices, but when such things are well executed and fit the book, it is easy to shrug off such things and just enjoy the book.

So what is the book about? It is pretty much what the title of the book says. An invisible library exists between parallel universes (not identical) containing feys (vampires, werewolves, and dragons, and elemental spirits) and technology (steampunk, thus far). The Library’s job is to secure books to their collections for safekeeping. Unfortunately, I can’t go into details here about its duties as it ruins the plot. The Library employs librarians who go into these parallel universes to retrieve the books they want to gain. They are ready to steal and use a cloak and dagger to get what they want. Irene, the protagonist, is sent to mid-1800 century London to get the Brothers of Grimm book, and she has to babysit a junior associate, Kai, while at it. And, of course, nothing is as straightforward.

Irene is a compelling character. She is strong, independent, snarky, likes tea and books, and has a flaw. She is too invested with the Library and too consumed by being a good little librarian. I liked her, despite the flaws in her logic. She can stand on her own. She has history, personality and isn’t a plot device. I would love to add something that is revealed at the end as a critique, which made me grimace a little. I can’t, as I don’t want to spoil anything. Let’s just say that she is more of a cliché as a heroine than I wanted her to be. Before I move on to Kai, I want to say something about the clichés the book is riddled with. The plot, the setting, and the characters are not original (to an extent). It is all highly familiar and has been seen many times in other books. What is novel is the combo, which works so well that it is an original story nevertheless. The writer puts her spin on it to make it appealing and fresh.

About Kai. He’s a junior associate in training to become a librarian. He is inhumanly gorgeous and highly sure of himself. But, he is flawed yet, perfect (and naïve.) So, I wasn’t that excited about him, not either, when the story revealed his full character. That’s on me. I hate when characters are described as incredibly handsome. So we had a rocky start immediately as he was introduced, and it remained so towards the end. That said, he fits the story as he is, and I can’t think of a replacement for him, which wouldn’t alter the course of events too drastically, so Kai is what he is. A wet dream to some and an annoyance to me.

I have run out of anything else to say about the book. But I want to add that I jumped straight to the next book in the series. I’m in the right mood for parallel universes and librarians, having had almost cinematography experience with the first book. Unfortunately, I have read already several pages, and I’m annoyed. I’m not sure yet why. It hopefully will pass, and I can get back to that cozy feeling I had with this one, as if I was reading it by the fire with a bar of chocolate next to me and no hurry to go anywhere. The Invisible Library is worth the read if you like: books, books about books, tea and books, steampunk, dragons, vampires, and Sherlock Holmes.

Thank you for reading and have a bookish day ❤

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