Wednesday, February 22, 2017

ARC Review: The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman

Series:     Invisible Library #3
Pub. Date:Jan. 10, 2017
Publisher:Roc Books
Length:356 pages

The Invisible Library has been such a unique series involving various sects (humans, fae and dragons) living in realms of differing levels of chaos, and accessible by librarians who seek to preserve the order and existence of each unique realm by collecting its important works of literature.

Our protagonist is Irene, a librarian/spy who is sent on missions by library superiors to fetch books from different worlds. Her sidekick, mentee and possible future love interest is Kai, a dragon royal prince and intern for the library. Detective Peregrine Vale (in an iteration of London) is also a tag-along and possible love interest, but it doesn't seem to be a budding love triangle as Kai has given his permission for Irene to engage a relationship with both men. But so far, we have no heat, only the hint of things to come.  I have had a hard time gauging a relationship among these three as, in my head, I am seeing Kai as very young, Vale as older, and Irene as somewhere in the middle. I don't have much reason to back that up - and even Irene said in this book that she is in her late 30s - but that is how the impression of each character formed as I was reading. I do hope some sort of relationship comes to fruition in the next book as I feel like it has been dragged out enough.

In this installment of the series, Irene and Kai are back in Vale's London with Irene on probation as a result of her actions in The Masked City. The showcase antagonist for The Burning Page is Alberich, who played a tangential villainous role in the previous books. I was happy to see him front and center as the bad guy this time as he is the bogeyman of the library and I wanted to see what he could really do. This time he is out to destroy the library entirely, and he easily focuses on Irene due to their prior encounters (and her subsequent escapes). Alberich didn't seem quite so evil in this story - at least he didn't skin any librarians and wear their skin like a suit (blech). However he was a man possessed and he is determined to bring down the library for a very specific reason, which we finally discover. The majority of the action took place in the last 20% of the book, and I really liked the story from that point forward. Seeing Irene and Alberich go head to head was captivating. However the earlier parts of the book dragged a bit and I was impatient to get to the big showdown.

I have to admit that this series is confusing at times, and the fantastical aspects could be flushed out a little more. The Burning Page was not as confusing as the chaos stories in The Masked City, but there were areas which could have been expounded upon. Alberich's motivations were one area... while we learned what he is looking for, I would have liked to learn more about his backstory with his sister and the library in general. After some of the revelations in this book, I have a sneaking suspicion about what may be revealed in the future and I am looking forward to seeing if I am right.  I did like that this story went back to the book hunt/theft somewhat as we got away from the premise in The Masked Series, and the books/library aspect was one of the things that appealed to me about the series as a whole.

I recommend this series to any book lover who likes fantasy and/or a more complicated read... this series does not feel like a fluff piece. The varying worlds are diverse and complex, and sometimes the chaotic worlds will make your eyes cross. But this author definitely has a good imagination and world-building skills.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Berkley/Roc.

The Invisible Library