Review: The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Colman

The Invisible LibrarySynopsis: Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

Title: The Invisible Library
Author: Genevieve Colman
Publisher: Tor UK
Pub Date: 15th January 2015
Pages: 329
ISBN: 9781447256236

Rating: 3stars

My friend raved about this book for so long over Christmas that I finally caved when I saw it in a sale and bought it on my e-reader. I think it’s safe to say that my attempt not to buy books this year has completely gone down the drain.

Light-hearted and easy to read, I raced through The Invisible Library in a few days – it was a great book to get me out of my reading funk. Colman sets a brilliant scene; steam-punk Victorian London inhabited by aristocratic vampires, werewolves, fey, and other mythical creatures. Partner this with a heroic male side-kick and a detective who could have walked out of a Doyle hardback and you have a pretty fun story.

I also loved the concept of the library itself; a haven for bookworms to spend eternity collecting unique books and researching… wait for it… books! If such a place existed, I’d be firing up my CV as we speak.

There were, however, a few things that started to annoy me whilst reading. Firstly, some of the dialogue towards the second half should have been slashed by an editor. Too much focus was put on the ‘niceties’ of conversation typical in Victorian society and, rather than adding to the atmosphere, it came across as jarring and forced.

Secondly, Irene’s answer about the reason for the Library’s existence fell incredibly flat. It might be that we’re introduced to the darker side of the Library in the sequel, but being thrown into a completely different plot here just didn’t work. It also ruined what I consider to be an ideal world and occupation.

Finally, the more I read of The Invisible Library, the more I noticed that every single male character (including the villains) had feelings for Irene – be they admiration, affection, or respect. Yet, every other female character was categorised as either an evil competitor, brain-washed follower, or conniving family member. Even for a YA, this was pushing it a bit far.

Overall, The Invisible Library is a light and easy read; great for kicking you out of any reading slump. Did it make me exclaim/shout/cry in public? No. Do I want to read the second book? Yes. Would I recommend it? To those who read YA regularly, I’d recommend it as a light read. To those wanting to get into the genre, I’d recommend a punchier title (something like An Ember in the Ashes).

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