Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Librarian-spy Irene and her apprentice Kai are back in the second in this “dazzling”* book-filled fantasy series from the author of The Invisible Library. The written word is mightier than the sword—most of the time... Working in an alternate version of Victorian London, Librarian-spy Irene has settled into a routine, collecting important fiction for the mysterious Library and blending in nicely with the local culture. But when her apprentice, Kai—a dragon of royal descent—is kidnapped by the Fae, her carefully crafted undercover operation begins to crumble. Kai’s abduction could incite a conflict between the forces of chaos and order that would devastate all worlds and all dimensions. To keep humanity from getting caught in the crossfire, Irene will have to team up with a local Fae leader to travel deep into a version of Venice filled with dark magic, strange coincidences, and a perpetual celebration of Carnival—and save her friend before he becomes the first casualty of a catastrophic war. But navigating the tumultuous landscape of Fae politics will take more than Irene’s book-smarts and fast-talking—to ward off Armageddon, she might have to sacrifice everything she holds dear....
The Masked City is the second installment in author Genevieve Cogman's The Invisible Library Series. This series features Junior Librarian/Spy Irene who has spent the better part of her life working for the secretive organization called the Invisible Library. Irene's job has her searching far and wide, and in different alternative universes to find and acquire books that have been requested by certain elements within the library itself. Sometimes Irene's job is easy as pie, other times she has to run for her life in order to outrun those who are intent on capturing her.
Irene was given the job as Librarian in residence by her mentor Coppelia in an alternative London where she has already made some interesting choices. This London not only has zeppelins, but vampires, and werewolves, and smog, and no phones! She was given an apprentice who is also a dragon, Kai, and has made friends with Peregrine Vale, who I have named Sherlock Holmes of this time. In this reality, her cover story is that she is a freelance translator. After Kai walks into an apparent ambush, Irene must do everything she can, including making some dangerous alliances with Lord Silver an Kai's powerful Uncle in order to prevent a Fae/Dragon full blown war from escalating. A war that would have devastating consequences for worlds across all spectrums.
Irene is a character who is perfectly fine in accepting responsibilities. She knows that Kai is her responsibility, and even though the deck is clearly stacked against her, she isn't one to cry or wallow in self pity. She takes charge, she makes some dangerous choices, and ends up taking a journey on a Train that is actually alive. She has to face adversaries that are at least two steps ahead of her, while also remaining outside of the Library's purview for fear of drawing her organization into a war. Irene and Vale end up in alternative reality 17th century Venice where the Fae are the dominant race. They must race to rescue Kai before it's too late.
I really love this series and author. I love her characters. I love her world building. I love the fact the setting is 17th century Venice. I love the fact that Irene has the ability to use power words aka Language in order to get out of difficult situations. I didn't much care for the way Vale acted in this book. He sometimes comes across as much better than anyone else, but I dare say that his relationship with Kai is the reason we can pretty much count on his ability to put his disbelieves behind and help Irene out of a tough jam. The Masked City is a fantastic sequel to the Invisible Library, and I am hopeful that the third novel, The Burning Page, will be just as action packed.