Review of The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

The Masked City: The Invisible Library 2 Book Cover The Masked City: The Invisible Library 2
The Invisible Library
Genevieve Cogman
Tor UK
December 8, 2015

Sequel to The Invisible Library, The Masked City is a wonderful read for all those who enjoyed Mr Penumbra's 24 hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, Jasper Fford's The Eyre Affair or Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London. 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.

I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read this latest book, by Genevieve Cogman, in the Secret Library series. I’d read the first book in this series when it came out and the idea seemed to have promise to me. I enjoyed being back in this (or more accurately these) world(s) again. It felt like meeting up with old friends and it was good to see how they are getting on. Though it could be read as a standalone story, I think it would be sensible to read the earlier book before reading this. The first book does have important information on what the “Secret Library” actually is and has the background to at least some of the characters as well.

I’d rather not give away too much about what happens in this tale – part of the joy of reading is the journey of discovery – however dastardly deeds from the Fae are involved and we learn a little more about dragons. Continuing from the last book, Kai (Irene’s dragon trainee Librarian) & Vale (renowned detective in his alternate world) feature again and we get to know far more about Irene who has definitely developed well as the key character. The book’s adventures take us to new alternate worlds again. As before, there are echoes of the Thursday Next series in this concept however that is a good thing as far as I am concerned.

I found this book more satisfying and certainly more mature than the first one. I see real promise ahead. Sufficient is said for me to be fairly sure that there are some good themes to come in future “Secret Library” books. I have no intention of missing out on the further adventures of Irene. I simply enjoyed the last book – this one was better for me and the end of this one was fast paced and very hard to put down.  I’d say this book was a 4.5/5.

Note – I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review