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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book Review: The Masked City (The Invisible Library #2) by Genevieve Cogman

You can find Jeanie G's 3 sheep review of The Masked City here

The Masked City (The Invisible Library #2)
by Genevieve Cogman

December 3rd 2015 by Tor
Paperback, 352 pages
Librarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he's been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds.

Kai's dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people - and the forces of order and chaos themselves.

Irene's mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it's always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death.

Irene Winters is a Librarian, that is to say, she is an operative for the interdimensional Library tasked with procuring books that have the potential to off-set balance within the universe. Sound complicated? It is. But the process of unraveling the intricacies of this vast universal setting is completely enchanting.

The Masked City is the second book by Genevieve Cogman in her Invisible Library series. I entered the series at book two. Although careful reading was required to understand Irene’s tasks and surroundings, it wasn’t impossible to start with book two. Upon reflection I should have read book one, The Invisible Library, first as the learning curve wouldn’t have been so steep. Nonetheless, I truly enjoyed this vast and sweeping read.

The book revolves primarily around the abduction of Irene’s assistant Kai, a human-dragon of royal lineage. Irene must go ‘rogue’ to follow Kai and his abductors into a high-chaos fae version of Venice, where it’s always carnival. Armed with the ability to traverse dimensions, the verbal sorcery of ‘The Language’, and her cool, razor-sharp wit, Irene must negotiate a highly dangerous situation before time runs out for Kai. Irene’s surroundings and pursuers don’t make it easy for the lone Librarian; although this Venice is very dream-like, it’s also prone to the nightmarish. And so, it’s non-stop action for Irene with no end to crisis and conflict.

Most of the novel takes place in Victorian-type versions of reality. As such, the book has a, reserved, multi-layered academic quality. Akin to series like Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, the world of the Invisible Library requires a fair deal of thought and processing. While the book is highly entertaining, it’s not necessarily easy entertainment. Cogman is highly imaginative, her language highly descriptive. I particularly enjoyed a scene depicting a brawl between two servant factions in the middle of Paddington Station; spur-adorned stiletto boots concealed by Victorian maid attire are wickedly cool. I’d love a pair

Also enveloped in the narrative is the highly nuanced, deliciously subtle burgeoning romance between Irene and Kai. The relationship is certainly on the precipice of realization and carries with it all the chaste angst of Victorian propriety. I, for one, cannot contain my anticipation and eagerly await the next installment of The Invisible Library.

Five unabashedly Unreserved Sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the author:
Genevieve Cogman is a freelance author, who has written for several role-playing game companies. Her work includes GURPS Vorkosigan and contributions to the In Nomine role-playing game line for Steve Jackson Games: contributions to Exalted 2nd Edition and other contributions to the Exalted and Orpheuslines for White Wolf Publishing: Hearts, Swords and Flowers: The Art of Shoujo for Magnum Opus: and contributions to the Dresden Files RPG for Evil Hat Productions. She currently works for the NHS in England in the HSCIC as a clinical classifications specialist.

She has had three books of her series about the multidimensional Library accepted by Tor Books, and the first two books, The Invisible Library and The Masked City, are now available. Her novels are represented by Lucienne Diver of the Knight Agency.


  1. This sounds very exciting. I would love to have Irene's job! Librarian and a spy, what's not to love?! Thanks for the post.