The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

*I received a copy of The Masked City from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This is the second book in The Invisible Library series. It will not contain spoilers from this book, but will assume the reader has read Book 1, The Invisible Library. Here goes.

Publication date: September 6

The purpose of the Library is to preserve humanity from either absolute reality of absolute unreality. And you will do this by collecting nominated books, to maintain the balance.

The Student Librarian’s Handbook

There are writers out there who really know how to sell a story to readers. As a reader, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I love books about books, about loving books and being surrounded by books, and I know what power a book and the story it contains can have. So when an author writes an entire series about collecting and maintaining a collection of powerful books, it’s almost like there is a built-in audience waiting around with grabby hands for the next installment.

I loved The Invisible Library, Book 1 in this series a whole lot, and ran around the internet with muppet arms telling people about it. And now that the next installment is here (at least in North America – the U.K. is ahead of us with this series) I have another excuse to ramble on incoherently about how great the series is and why everyone should read it.

The Masked City continues the story of Irene, a Librarian who works for The Library out of an alternate-London with her assistant Kai. Not long into the story, Kai is kidnapped by a dangerous fae faction and Irene desperately begins the search for who exactly has taken him, where they have him, and why. With seemingly-infinite number of alternate worlds that he could be in, Irene has her work cut out for her. Oh, and in case you missed it from Book 1, Kai is a dragon, and royalty, so shit will get real (by which I mean a lot of people will die) pretty quickly if anything happens to him.

The story has the same great narrative flair, packed full of adventure and witty dialogue, and I was completely invested in Irene’s struggles and her desperation to get Kai back safely. Likewise, Kai is a great character, and in this book we get to see other members of his family and learn more about dragon culture, which is all fascinating. One of the problems I had though (and it’s not really a problem, frankly) is that the best parts of the first book were seeing Irene and Kai interact, and because they’re separated for most of this story, we as readers don’t get to enjoy that. I think it’s a great setup for the next book, and develops their relationship further, but it does mean that something is missing from this book for me.

Another sticking point for me was the ending. Having Irene and Kai separated for the book set my expectations for their reunion very high, and I did find the ending to be somewhat abrupt and unsatisfying. I do immediately want to read the next book (The Burning Page, likely 2017 for North America) because we ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, but it’s left me feeling like I was in the middle of a story and had the book ripped from my hands. I really appreciate stories told in series that can also wrap things up nicely between books without giving up the anticipation of what’s next.

Those things aside, there was so much to love. These books are smart and fun and Cogman does such a good job of creating entire worlds whenever the narrative demands it without them feeling flat or empty. I had such a sense of excitement when I got to the first scene in The Library, and could maybe read a hundred stories centered around it. It looks like she has 5 books planned, so I’ll take what I can get.

Speaking of, The Burning Page has finally shown up on NetGalley, so I’ll be over there begging for a copy…