The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1)
by Genevieve Cogman.
An inter-dimensional library tasked with collecting rare works from the the different alternate realities. Do you really need more of a hook than that? I didn’t. Turns out, being a Librarian for this particular library is a lot like being a spy and thief. Add in some time travel, some steampunk flavor, a few paranormal creatures, and more, and you have the makings of a delightfully entertaining read.
And it was, at least, delightfully entertaining. This is a book you read for fun, not for Deep Thoughts or Social Commentary. Irene as the Librarian we follow through the story is the perfect blend of practical, and believably prone to human emotions and inconsistencies (also, of course, a book lover). The Librarian-in-training assigned to her, Kai, is a great counterpoint in his aloofness and chameleon-like tendencies. The other characters encountered tend to be of the larger-than-life variety, but it works in this setting. The plot (a simple book retrieval mission turned murder mystery) is engaging enough to keep you turning pages without requiring too much brain power.
The parts where this story falls short are in world-builing and, oddly enough, foreshadowing. I’m so intrigued by this inter-dimensional library, but barely anything is explained about it. Irene’s boss, it’s randomly revealed, is part clockwork or part machine? It’s unclear and never really elaborated on. Nor is this history of the library or why it really exists, or who/where Irene’s parents are at this time, or even some of Irene’s own personal history. I imagine some of that is saved for later books, but I could have used a little more to build my mental image on. Also, the arch villain of the story just kind of came out of nowhere. Things are chugging along, and then all of the sudden ‘oh, yes, that boogyman we’ve never mentioned before is a) real and b) here.’ And fine, I’ll go along with it, but it seemed very much added after the fact, rather than intentional or led up to. The end, as well, was a bit rushed and unclear- I wasn’t really sure what the issue was or why the particular solution was indeed the solution.
All that said, this was still a fun read. If you like steampunk mysteries with a Victorian and paranormal flair, give this one a whirl.