Irene and her assistant Kai, professional spies for the Library, have been sent to an alternate-reality London to retrieve a particularly dangerous book. Unfortunately, by the time they arrive, the book has already been stolen. Irene and Kai are in a race against London's underground factions to find the book, and in a chaos-infested reality where supernatural creatures and magic run rampant, the task looks near impossible. But if they don't retrieve that book, the nature of reality itself might not survive . . .
A bit of mix between The Librarians tv series and Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books, The Invisible Library is another fun play on the concept of a library storing not merely books, but artifacts that could alter reality. One thing different about this one is that it subtly questions the morality of both the Library and librarians who work there--while it's all that Irene has ever known and an entity she loves and believes in, there is definitely some question of corruption and room for less than altruistic motives within, especially with its hints of political maneuvering. I'm interested to see how that plays out in future books.
Since the premise of the series is that there are hundreds--perhaps thousands or even millions--of alternate realities, which can be magical, technical, or varying mixtures of each, there is a ton of room for creativity. This book was a fun dip into steampunk, with a war between the technical and magical balancing each other out (and neither side particularly innocent or good).
Our heroine Irene is a little stiff and cold, though to be fair, she rarely works with anyone, generally being assigned solitary retrieval missions. I'm really hoping she loosens up in the following books, especially now that she's accustomed to--even appreciative of--Kai's friendship. Who, for the record, I liked quite well. It was fun to see his true nature poking through more and more as events progressed.
There was one short scene that really didn't fit with the rest of the story (a brief discussion on sex when they'd known each other all of one day), and it didn't mesh with either personality. It felt more like an unnecessary attempt to make the story less Young Adult. It doesn't fit, especially at this stage of the series, and it did absolutely nothing for the plot. One could pretty much rip that one page out of the book and be just fine (other than living with the frustration of knowing there's a missing page).
There's definitely a lot of loose ends and backstory yet to be fleshed out, but as it is a series, I'm hopeful that my expectations will be met in future books. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, with it's interesting concepts of alternate realities and the vast room it has for creativity.
Thank you Blogging for Books for providing a free book; I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
The Invisible Library
1. The Invisible Library
2. The Masked City
3. The Burning Page
4. The Lost Plot