It isn’t often that you read a novel about an undercover librarian. However, Genevieve Cogman’s debut might make you wonder why this hasn’t come up before.
This witty and spirited adventure sets up a potential gold mine of lore for the writer to plunder in future sequels.
The eponymous Library exists outside of normal time and space. Its librarians are spies who scour alternative realities for rare and important works of fiction. Some of these worlds are overrun with ‘chaos’.
Junior librarian Irene has just returned from her latest assignment-turned-heist when she’s thrust back into the field with new student Kai on an even more dangerous mission.
Like other initiates, Irene is tattooed with a special mark, which allows her to understand the Language – a kind of librarian Parselmouth. It’s fitting that words are the librarian’s form of magic. With all this back story, Irene is a lifeline. She’s witty, intelligent and a bit of a nerd.
The novel reads like a tightly plotted miniseries, and there are setups and rewarding payoffs woven throughout. Occasionally, however, Cogman strays towards too much in the way of explanatory internal monologue to smooth over an important plot point that perhaps deserved a bit more show, not tell.
If a story about secret societies, magical creatures and cyborg alligators doesn’t excite you then nothing will. The Invisible Library is a fun and original page-turner, and the universe hopefully revisited.