First, let me start by asking this–what is it about novels that have any sort of book/library connotation, that makes you just have to pick them up? If it has the word book, books, library, librarian in the title I can’t resist. Maybe this is why so many books are about… books. Think about it. How many books have you read that have at least a subplot revolving around reading or a love of literature? A character working at a bookstore; a book collector; a book thief. There are a lot out there. I’m thinking it is an easy way to insert the readers into the story; an easy way to allow the reader to relate.
Anyway, mini-tangent over. The Invisible Library follows junior library agent, Irene, who is part spy, part detective. Irene works for a highly secretive and mysterious library. Her job is to collect rare works of fiction from different realities–different versions of the world. In this first book, Irene is sent to an alternate London where chaos reigns. In a steampunk-esq world where fairies, vampires and werewolves exist, Irene finds that she might just be in over her head. Irene and her increasingly mysterious assistant Kai, have to track down an extremely rare and dangerous book all while dodging politics, magic, long dead murderers and even massive electronic centipedes.
I don’t think I even read the back cover of this book before I dove in, so I had no preconceived notions. What I got was part detective novel, part high fantasy, part steampunk lit and part bookish nerd love. With a strong female character who was partial bad-ass, super smart and self confident but was also reliant on others and had a serious case of internal self doubt. Irene threw me for a loop in a good way. I thought she was going to be this strict, rules are rules kind of gal’, but instead we get a character with a lot of depth who knows how she is supposed to act and complies but internally is sort of a mess. I’m not shooting her down, I’m just saying there is a lot going on there.
For a story with so many different elements to it… again fairies, alternate realities and mechanical bugs…the story works. There was action, intrigue, rivalry, potential love interests, some serious secrets and of course books!
I could see this being a good book club book because it has a little of everything and could appeal to a wide range of readers. Yes, it does lean more toward the fantasy/sci-fi genre but there are so many other literary reference and genre crossovers, that it would work for a diverse group.
This was a quick, fun read with a lot going for it. As further enticement, the second book is on its way.
That’s all for today!