The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
Book 2 of The Invisible Library series
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Invisible Library. And so my hopes were high (perhaps too high) for Genevieve Cogman to deliver on her second book starring Librarian Irene. Unfortunately I was ultimately let down and disappointed in many aspects of the story.
On page 2 we find out that Kai has been kidnapped. If like me you tend to read a couple books (or more) in-between books in a series to keep things fresh then you might also feel like page 2 is a bit abrupt and sudden for a major plot point. I had barely remembered who Kai was before he was the pivotal point in the story. I prefer a book in a series to ease me in for a couple pages and allow me to reorient myself. The Masked City did anything but give me space to remember the world. Perhaps reading this immediately after book 1 would mitigate the issue; but for me it felt far too rushed.
Cast of Characters
Irene remains our leading gal through book 2; just as in book 1. However in The Masked City we lose Irene's comrades in arms. Without Kai and Vale directly involved in the activities and missing for the majority of the entire book I was not as taken in. Irene is fairly witty and clever on her own; but let's face it, we all love a good witty banter between friends. I really missed this aspect here. It may also have something to do with my unabashed love for Vale. I will confess I have a crush on a yummy Victorian-esque detective. Irregardless of Vale being more present I think having Silver or Kai at least present with Irene would have helped. And while each of them does have a presence of sorts in the novel; overall we are stuck with lonely ol' Irene.
The best part of Cogman's second book is the chaos world and how she has set it up inside her multi-dimensional world. Chaos worlds are well chaotic. Subject to fewer laws of physics, gravity, etc. and worlds that are easily manipulated by the Fae. The way your own 'story' leads your destiny in the chaos realms is very interesting and it actually worked for me. There was some order to the chaos but it was subtle and hard to manipulate. I liked the way Irene navigates this world and how Cogman has given the reader a way to connect with a world unlike our own.
Yes there are Dragons, Fae and magic galore in The Masked City. And normally that might be enough for me; but after the smashing success of Invisible Library I felt ultimately let down by Cogman. I'm not so turned off that I won't keep reading the series. I'm hoping this is a one-off issue and that Cogman is able to revive her style and tone from the first book. This is the kind of book that I'd say everyone needs to read if reading the whole series; but that on a re-read I might skip over (depending on relevance to next books in series). Fingers crossed that book three and I get along much better!
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