When it’s your job to save the day – where do you start?
Librarian spy Irene has standards to maintain, especially while on probation. And absconding from a mission via a besieged building doesn’t look good. But when her escape route home goes up in flames, what’s a spy to do? However, it seems Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across dozens of worlds. Worse still, her nemesis Alberich is responsible -and he plans to annihilate the Library itself.
Irene and assistant Kai are posted to St Petersburg, to help combat this threat. Here Alberich emerges, as Irene tries to save her friend Vale and foil assassination attempts. Then one incredibly dangerous opportunity to save the Library emerges. Saving herself would be a bonus . . .
Genevieve Cogman is back on form with The Burning Page. I fell in love with the first book in the series, The Invisible Library, and, while I enjoyed the follow-up, The Masked City, I felt it lacked the complexity and depth which set The Invisible Library apart. The Burning Page feels like it owes something to both books: the madcap adventures we’ve come to expect, and which The Masked City took to a whole new level, with the high-stakes, character development, and complexities of sub-plot which made The Invisible Library such an enjoyable read.
The characters in The Invisible Library series feel like old friends. I felt that way by the end of book one, and, as you might expect, that’s only increased by the end of book three… Irene has real “gumption”. She’s smart, sassy, has some serious skills, kicks ass in the pursuit of her beloved books, and combines that with great leadership. She could feel a little too perfect, if it wasn’t for her moments of self-doubt and the occasional mistake, which render her entirely human. I’m still not entirely “sold” on Kai. While he’s obviously a character that’s highly capable, and he does act as a good sidekick and counterfoil to Irene, I find him a little smug, sulky, and immature. In other words: he annoys me. I also really loved the development of Vale’s character in The Burning Page. Although we’ve definitely seen major growth with Irene, and the beginnings of the unravelling of her personal story, and even Kai seems to show some signs of growth, Vale had remained a constant and a bit of a mystery until now. He really came into his own in The Burning Page, and I liked him all the more for it. However, there’s definitely a few character mysteries still to be explored in the series, and I, for one, am excited to see where the author takes them.
The Burning Page is the first of the three books with any romantic angle. There were hints in the previous books that there might be some attraction between Kai and Irene, but it was quickly brushed over. A little romance here adds depth to characters and some extra intrigue to the plot. The whos, wheres, and whys also took me a little by surprise, so it was a great twist. I really want to see the romance angle explored further in the fourth book, because I’ve grown quite attached to these characters and I’m sort of hoping for some happy endings. Fingers crossed for that…
There are some seriously high stakes in The Burning Page, and, while it doesn’t have quite the same complexity as The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman has revisited the technique of adding tension and suspense, building her characters, through the addition of strands of divergent sub-plot. I still, personally, wanted a little more sub to the plot, but it was definitely an improvement on The Masked City. The story itself, as we’ve come to expect, is a rapid-paced chase through worlds to solve the mystery before the world as they know it ends, stop the bad guy, and save the day. I mean, first and foremost, it’s just great fun.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Burning Page, and I would definitely recommend the series for fans of the fantasy genre. I’m excited to see what’s next for Irene, Kai and Vale, and, of course, the Library…
I have, yet again, added nothing to my December Book Bingo score with this one… But this was something I just had to read immediately, so I can’t say I’m too bothered…
If you want to join us, and see if you can score some points with your own reading this month, it’s not too late! Check out the December Book Bingo rules here.