Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Publication Date: January 15, 2015
Publisher: Tor UK
Pages: 329
Series: The Invisible Library #1
Genre: Fantasy
Synopsis: 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

Review:  This book essentially ticks all the boxes when you first read the synopsis. Alternate dimensions, books, a library existing out of time and space, dragons and faeries and werewolves--oh my!  And really, The Invisible Library has all the makings of a fantastic, weird novel, but it ultimately falls short.

If there is any comment I can make on this story it's that it is perfectly average.  Decent writing, okay world building, somewhat enticing action and plot.  But you see, that is precisely the issue.  The story seems grand and bizarre in concept, but in execution it fails to reach a little farther outside the bounds of a cookie cutter fantasy book.

Paranoia was one of the few habits that was worth keeping.

Every typical fantasy or supernatural themed book tends to have a similar pattern of thought, character, and plot.  Some do it better than others, and the rare few manage to escape the stereotypes to become something that sparks imagination and ideas in the minds of readers.  The Invisible Library is the former, unfortunately.  The story is one I had heard time and time again before, falling into a familiar rhythm of near death experiences and mad dashes after evil villains.  It was nice and comfortable, and perfectly entertaining.  What disappoints me is that it could have been more.

Irene, our resident mystical librarian, loves books.  I don't know about you, but I always appreciate that in a character.  Other than her innate appreciation of all things bookish, Irene is spunky enough to warrant appreciation, yet not clever enough to incite excitement.  As for Kai, her relative student/sidekick/friend with a not-so-secret secret...he exists, he's part of the story.  Can you tell I'm not overly impressed or disappointed with him?

The atmosphere of the place soothed her automatically; the rich lantern lights, the sheer scent of paper and leather, and the fact that everywhere she looked, there were books, books, beautiful books.

Without a doubt, my favorite aspect was the magic system, if it can even be called magic.  The theme of chaos versus order is intriguing, if a bit confusing.  The idea is that there are chaotic and lawful forces in the world (or in this case, worlds) that play with impossibility and irrationality.  My only complaint is that the single most fascinating part of the book is not expanded on.

So I guess the question is this: would I recommend The Invisible Library?  The answer is both yes and no.  I would say that it is worth a fair shot.  The book has the bare bones of a phenomenal, original story, and I am not convinced that it is too late for the series to expand and morph into that strange, curious tale I want it to be.


  1. Sounds like an interesting premise but sorry it fell short!! Great review!

    1. Yeah, what's disappointing is how much better it could have been. Thanks for commenting Grace!

  2. I have this book on Kindle but haven't yet gotten to it! I do hope the series really expands in the coming book because i think the premise is really interesting! I like the idea of Chaos vs Order! Great review :)

    New visitor and GFC follower,

    1. I think I'll probably read the sequel eventually. I haven't given up hope yet! The chaos vs. order theme was definitely the best part. Thanks so much for commenting, Uma!

  3. Aghhhhh books about books and libraries SHOULDN'T FALL SHORT AND DISAPPOINT US. It's the woooorst. #rude 😭😂😭😂 I have this on my TBR but quite frankly I've only heard subpar things about it so I'm too scared to even try. It's sad that it's not particularly original or exciting. D:

    1. I know, isn't it a tragedy? It had so much potential, and I definitely haven't given up on the series yet, but it fell short. It has hints of really interesting themes, though, so give it a go! Thanks for commenting, Cait!