Book Review: The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman (Invisible Library, book 3)

burning-page

My reviews for books 1 and 2 of the series can be found here and here.

Favourite quotes:

“I’m quite happy to steal a book from storage where nobody’s ever going to read it. But I do feel a bit guilty about snatching it mid-read from someone’s bedside table”.

“I have spent most of my life preferring books to people. Just because I like a few specific people doesn’t change anything”.

“The only problem is that it’s difficult to imagine something entirely new. We use the words and definitions of the past to shape our ideas. Something that is genuinely the next evolutionary step is unlikely to resemble anything we can imagine. Even the best books on the subject are limited”.

At the end of “The Masked City”, Irene Winters has stopped a war between the Fae and dragons. However, the mess she’s made in the process wasn’t appreciated by her superiors of the Library, so she’s currently on probation. Which means that she’s stuck with lowly jobs that are hardly prestigious, such as snatching books from heavily chaos-infested worlds that are dangerous. And that means that her apprentice Kai (who happens to be a dragon prince) is also stuck doing these jobs with her. His Royal Dragon Family isn’t too happy, needless to say, despite the fact that they respect Irene for saving Kai from his kidnappers. One such lowly job almost ends in Irene and Kai being burnt to death just as they are about to leave a chaos-infested world and return to the Library. Turns out that the fire wasn’t accidental, and the Library Elders are very concerned. It seems that the traitor Alberich is trying to do something to the Library, but nobody knows for sure what. Since Irene is on probation, she doesn’t have much influence, but her mentor is willing to listen to her insights and assigns her a job that’s slightly more prestigious than her previous one. Irene is to snatch a book from one of the alternates ruled by the Imperial Russia.

But before she can set for St. Petersburg, Irene has to stop by Vale’s London to check on him. In the process, she and Kai are attacked by giant babboon spiders, Irene is kidnapped by werewolves, and the two Librarians find their friend Vale acting too much like his literary counterpart. On top of that, Irene’s old flame, a Fae called Zayanna whom she met in Venice, makes an appearance. And everyone knows that you can’t trust the Fae…

Will Irene and Kai be able to complete their mission and save the Library and Vale in the process? Or will traitors, giant Asian hornets, snakes and worlds that don’t seem to listen to the Language end up being too much for them to deal with?

I must admit – I’ve missed Irene, Kai and the London gang since finishing “The Masked City” almost exactly a year ago. I adore the characters of the “Invisible Library” series, and the world Genevieve Cogman has created. The third installment of the series contains even more action than the previous one, and characters barely spend any time on research or planning. We saw at least some semblance of that in “The Masked City”, when Irene tried to get to know the Guantes’, but “The Burning Page” contains very few interludes like that. Irene is actually a prime example of “act first, think later” in this book. Or maybe things just tend to happen to this “unprincipled adventuress working as a book thief”. Indeed, only in the first third of the book, she:

  • Was nearly burnt to death;
  • Was nearly trampled by furniture and stairs;
  • Was attacked by giant spiders;
  • Flew on a dragon’s back;
  • Got ambushed by an overly-friendly Fae;
  • Got rejected by a potential bedmate after finding him high as a kite;
  • Got dragged to what essentially was a staff meeting and an internal affairs squabble;
  • Got kidnapped by a bunch of werewolves.

And a bunch of other things happened. I’m sure you can imagine that the rest of the book is just as eventful. And all Irene’s ever wanted was just a good book to read…

Despite the dangers faced by a Librarian, I still have a major case of job envy. Irene indeed does have my dream job – she gets to travel to parallel worlds and meet all kinds of characters, live in the biggest library in the world, practice her language (and Language) skills on a daily basis, and of course, she has access to any book she could ever want. The Language was my favourite plot device in the first two books, and I was thrilled to see it making a huge comeback in “The Burning Page”. It has a lot of potential that wasn’t realized in “The Masked City”, so it was wonderful to see Irene and other Librarians use it a lot more frequently. And its usage in a fight between a hero and a villain was absolutely epic!

“The Burning Page” is primarily an action-and-adventure novel set in a world established in “The Invisible Library”, but we do get to learn more about Irene. If “The Masked City” focused more on Kai’s character and his family, the third book allows us some insights into Irene’s past and gives her several opportunities for character development. One of the things I’m expecting from “The Lost Plot” (Book 4, out later this year) is getting to know Irene even more. Another is seeing how the Library is managing, given the internal conflicts we’ve received a sneak peak of in this book, as well as other obvious challenges it had to overcome in “The Burning Page”.

The setting is one of my favourite part of the “Invisible Library” series, and it was lovely to see more of the Library in “The Burning Page” – we barely got to spend any time there in “The Masked City”. And of course, it featured two of my favourite cities – London and St. Petersburg. I’m convinced that whatever world they’re a part of, they would always be stunning, atmospheric and breathing with history. So it was quite wonderful to see Irene and Kai in action in these two cities. I can’t wait to find out where they’d be going next!

“The Burning Page” is just as good as its predecessor, “The Masked City”, and I look forward to reuniting with our favourites in “The Lost Plot” in a few months! My rating is 8/10.

Dreamcast:

Irene – Rebecca Hall

Kai – Godfrey Gao

Bradamant – Indira Varma

Vale – James D’Arcy

Zayanna – Holliday Granger

Recommendations

You might like “The Invisible Library” series if you liked:

“Rabbit Back Literature Society” by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläi

“Magic Ex Libris” series by Jim C. Hine

“The Librarian” movie trilogy

Have you read “The Burning Page” yet? How about other books in the series? Share your opinions in the comments! 🙂

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