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


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.


Irene – Rebecca Hall

Kai – Godfrey Gao

Bradamant – Indira Varma

Vale – James D’Arcy

Zayanna – Holliday Granger


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! 🙂


Book Review: The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May

vanishing throne

My review for Book 1 of this series can be found here.

Favourite quotes

“The truth is, memories weigh a great deal. Each one bends your bones a little more until the heft of them wears you down. Now I know that some scars go so deep that they never fade”.

“Truth is never as pretty as a lie. It’s never as appealing. It’s a sword to the gut, the thing that reminds us that some people aren’t who we thought they are. Truth forces us to confront the ugliest parts of the people we love”.

“Don’t look at me for ideas. I just got to keep my body parts”.


Aileana Kameron has made a grave mistake, and now the faeries have been released and are wreaking havoc upon Scotland. She doesn’t know how long the assault on Edinburgh has been going on for – days, weeks, months, years have no meaning in Sith-bhruth, where she is trapped and kept prisoner by Lonnrach. Since Aileana is a Falconer – the last representative of a race that kills faeries – and Lonnrach is a baobhan sith, i.e. brother of the very same faerie that killed Aileana’s mother, their relationship is the opposite of pleasant. What Lonnrach puts her through in order to find what he needs is nearly impossible to bear, and it changes Aileana forever. These changes become clear when she escapes Lonnrach with the help of another badass lady and sees what has become of Scotland and her friends. The remaining people of Scotland have formed a fragile alliance with the fae in order to survive, but both the human world and the fae world are on the brink of destruction. The last remaining Falconer can get the solution to saving the worlds, but at a grave cost. Is Aileana ready to – literally – die to save the realms? Or is she still consumed by vengeance?


I waited for “The Vanishing Throne” pretty much since the moment I closed the very last page of “The Falconer” in the summer of 2014. I wanted to know more about Aileana’s world, and I wanted to see more badassery, but at the same time, I was anxious about “the second book syndrome”. Fortunately, “The Vanishing Throne” is just as good as “The Falconer” and in some aspects, it even surpasses it. In my review of “The Falconer” I mentioned that I wasn’t thrilled with the cliffhanger, but book 2 starts right after book 1 ends, which worked really well and made for a smooth transition. We don’t see Kiaran and other lovable characters from book 1 for a while – the first part is Aileana-centric, and provides a lot of material for character development, that’s written in a very compelling way. This part also provides us with some insight into the fae magic, which is quite disturbing. The Fae are generally pretty creepy creatures, I find, and I was glad to see that the author doesn’t romanticise them like many other fantasy authors I read. The bone-chilling history of the kingdoms of Seelie and Unseelie that’s revealed throughout the book just adds to the “creepy” factor. We also learn more about the world in which the series is set, which is what I was hoping would happen in this installment.

Aileana Kameron is the best part of “The Vanishing Throne” – just like “The Falconer”. Her development is central to the novel, as it was in book 1. If in book 1 she was primarily driven by revenge for her mother’s death, book 2 shows us that Aileana’s actions that involve killing faeries are no longer about avenging her mother’s murder – she is determined to save the world, even if it costs her her own life. She is not perfect – she feels like a real person, with strengths and flaws, and the emotions she experiences throughout the book are felt by the reader, even when the author doesn’t name them. We all know that a great author shows but doesn’t tell, and May has done the job perfectly in “The Vanishing Throne” when it came to the reader getting to know the Aileana that has gone through what few people have. The writing in “The Vanishing Throne” is even better than in “The Falconer” – as I pointed out, May’s way with words has genuinely made Aileana Kameron a stand-out. The setting in book 2 is much more sinister than in book 1 – there are fewer dances and no society functions, but a lot more blood, death and torture. The blend of the fae and human realms is very vivid, and the reader has an excellent picture of the world created by the author and inspired by the Scottish folklore in their head.

“The Vanishing Throne” is NOT a happy book. “The Falconer” wasn’t either, but the second installment is much darker, and Derrick’s jokes unfortunately bring less relief when the characters know that the world is ending. The romance between Aileana and Kiaran is more interesting than it was in the first book, but after finishing the book, I felt that there was even less hope for them than after Aileana was pulled under into Sith-bhruth at the end of “The Falconer”. The ending of book 2 is less of a cliffhanger than that of book 1, but it is nonetheless quite shocking and makes you yearn for book 3, which unfortunately doesn’t come out until 2017. I can wait, but it’ll be hard! My rating of “The Vanishing Throne” is 7.5/10.



You might like “The Falconer” series if you liked:

“The Infernal Devices” by Cassandra Clare (and “Shadowhunters” TV series)

“Fever” series by Karen Marie Moning

“Throne of Glass” series by Sarah J Maas


Have you read “The Falconer” series? What are your favourite books set in Scotland? Do let me know in the comments! 🙂

Book Review: The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

masked city

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. My review of the first book of the series can be found here.

We left Irene at the end of the last book just as she took on a permanent position of a “Detective” (Undercover Librarian) in one of the alternative Londons and she and Kai began working alongside their old friend Peregrine Vale. Things are going as well as they can be expected when you have a thirst for solving crimes, have taken the names of two very cunning heroines of classic literature (Irene Adler and Lady Winter) and your apprentice is a dragon. However, the fact that he is a dragon becomes quite problematic when he is suddenly kidnapped, probably by the Fae who are the sworn enemies of dragons. Unfortunately, this means that Irene has to turn to one of the least pleasant characters she knows – Lord Silver that we’ve met in the last book. He is as sleazy as ever, but he is somewhat helpful – apparently Kai’s been taken to The Masked City (Venice) for the purpose of starting a war with dragons. In short, the war would mean eternal chaos across all the alternates and all hell would quite literally break loose. Rescuing an apprentice is quite different to what Irene normally does – she usually steals books, not dragons! How much flirting, story-telling and sword-fighting would Irene have to do to free Kai and save the worlds? And would she ever simply get the chance to sit down and read a good book, which is what she’s wanted all along?


Irene, Kai and Vale are back in this installment and they’re as kick-ass as ever. “The Masked City” was one of my most anticipated sequels of last year but I’ve been saving it for New Year’s Day – it goes quite well with a glass of champagne and chocolates left over from Christmas, I have to say. It was quite lovely to be back in the world I began missing as soon as I finished the final page of “The Invisible Library”, and it was wonderful to see Irene again. Naturally, my major job envy hasn’t gone anywhere, although I had hoped for more time spent in The Library than I got at the end. Nonetheless, I love Italy, and Irene’s Venice was an excellent setting. This installment, for me, was less about wish fulfilment and more about enjoying a terrific action and adventure story. Indeed, “The Masked City” focuses a lot more on the action than the world-building, unlike “The Invisible Library”, but there was still a lot of room for character development and we learned quite a bit about certain aspects of the setting (well – settings).

The book’s central conflict is the war between the elitist nations of the Fae and the Dragons that’s been going on across all the alternates, as Irene learns. Lord Silver and the Guanteses (the Guantes’?) are the two sleazy villains that believe that the world quite literally revolves around them. The Fae are, however, much worse in that aspect. I’ve known quite a few people like that – they always believe that they are the protagonist of their own story and everyone else are just background characters. Silver and Lord and Lady Guantes are exactly like that, except their narcissism is amplified tenfold. The Dragons (Kai’s family) are less unpleasant, but they aren’t exactly warm and cuddly either.

These characters, and of course our favourite protagonists, are one of the best parts of the novel. I was also thrilled to see my favourite element of the last book – The Language – make a spectacular come back. At the start of the book, I was, however, quite exasperated with Irene’s excessive use of it and was waiting for it to blow up in her face. Revealing whether or not that’s what happened would be a very big spoiler though ;). It was good to see Irene make smarter decisions as the book progressed, and it was even better to see that “The Masked City” continues playing with tropes and somewhat breaking the fourth wall – a tradition that started in “The Invisible Library” and which I enjoyed immensely. “The Masked City” is quite self-aware in the way fans of this series would be familiar with by now and would certainly appreciate. We see this self-awareness in character development, the setting and of course, the research that Irene does in order to solve everyone’s problems.

“The Masked City” is a great sequel to a terrific first installment of the series, and I cannot wait to find out the title of the third, and hopefully not the final, installment of “The Invisible Library” series. My rating is 8/10.
Favourite quotes

“I just can’t stay away from a good library,’ she said, keeping to English. ‘It’s an addiction with me. Do you have the same problem?”

“‘Oh, I admit that not all stories have happy endings, but people prefer what they’re used to. If you were to actually ask them, nine out of ten would prefer a storybook existence to a mechanistic universe where happy endings never happen.”

“‘Most people don’t want a brave new world. They want the story that they know.”
You might like “The Masked City” if you liked:

“The Library of Shadows” by Mikkel Birkegaard
“Magic Ex Libris series” by Jim C. Hine
“The Great Library” by Rachel Caine
“Librarian” movie trilogy

Have you read “The Invisible Library” series? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? Do let me know!

Book Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

invisible library

Do you guys remember the “Librarian” movie trilogy? A very cute grad student turned badass librarian Flynn Carsen, played by Noah Wyle saving the world one rare artifact at a time? He meets a vampire Kate Beckett on one of his adventures?

Well, if you love those movies, no matter how terrible they actually are, you should get a copy of “The Invisible Library”!

Irene is a Librarian for the mysterious Library, the main purpose of which is to harvest fiction from all the realities, or “alternates”. Life as a Librarian slash Spy slash Bibliophile is all Irene’s ever known and ever wanted. Her new assignment involves training a shady apprentice while retrieving a rare edition of The Grimm Fairytales from one of the alternate Londons. However, when she and Kai arrive to meet with that alternate’s resident Librarian Dominic Aubrey, they discover that the book, which belonged to Lord Wyndham the vampire, has already been stolen by a mysterious figure from Irene’s past. Needless to say, Irene’s mission has just become a lot more complicated. Getting involved in a tangled web of politics, magical “chaos” – knowledge and balance’s mortal enemy – and most dangerous of all, a former Librarian turned traitor who may or may not also be after the book is the last thing she expected. After all – she had just wanted a good book to read and “getting chased by hellhounds and blowing things up was a comparatively unimportant part of the job”! Why is everyone and their mortal enemy so interested in that particular edition? And what’s a Librarian to do when her apprentice turns out to be a Dragon, even though they are natual to the order of all the linked worlds?

I have all kinds of crushes on “The Invisible Library”! For starters, the world-building. The world created by Ms Cogman is addictive, captivating and so elaborate that it is a shame to just waste it on one book, which is why I’m thrilled that this is just the first book in a series. The primary setting of the series seems to be a mysterious Library – a place that is all about finding “unique works of fiction and saving them in a place out of time and space”. The Library is treated as its own world, with its own laws and regulations, social hierarchy, treaties and agreements, and – my favourite part – its own language. I am a linguist and I have been since I was about six years old, so it always warms my heart when a book makes a foreign language into an important plot device, or even its own character. The author explains one of the problems us linguists face every day really well – “the problem with an evolving language that could be used to express things precisely was that, well, it evolved”. With most languages borrowing terms from English and other languages, it is sometimes hard to keep up. But, Cogman is, again, spot on in relation to this – “a simple, impersonal, uncontrollable need to know” is definitely something every linguist, and of course every reader at one point or another, comes to terms with. The power of the Language is explored quite well in this installment, but I do want more and more of it from the next ones (see my remark above about “the need to know”)! Did I mention I have a world-building crush on this series?

The fact that “The Invisible Library” breaks the fourth wall on several occasions, as well as the way it is done, was another factor why I couldn’t put this book down. Sometimes, breaking the fourth wall can make or break a work, and it is hard to toe the line. Ms Cogman, however, does so masterfully, which isn’t that surprising, given her background in gaming writing. She makes “The Invisible Library” so incredibly “self-aware” of being a “mash” of genres and all kinds of things that at no point in the book are these many things taken too far to the point of being ridiculous or over-the-top. And even if so, it is more than made up for by the general atmosphere of the book that would inevitably suck in any bibliophile! I was surprised to discover that I quite like the writing – usually I prefer “flowery, purple prose” in literary mysteries, but the fast pacing and straightforward language work quite well in this case.

I also have a massive crush on the main character’s job. She is, as I said above, a Librarian, but not the kind you would normally meet in a normal library (unless you’re reading “The Club Dumas”). She is a Librarian slash Book Thief slash Undercover “Detective” of sorts – her job involves hunting down rare pieces of fiction from all over the place, including myriads of alternate worlds. The job is not without some sinister undertones, of course – it can quite easily turn into an obsession, and if you live inside the Library and barely step into the alternates, you don’t age. It is also viewed by Irene and others as a “duty” to the Library, an institution that they don’t actually know that much about. Despite that, I know for a fact that I would never, ever turn down a job like that. Perhaps I’m being a romantic when I say that, but it’s true. This entire book is like one big wish fulfillment for me and I can’t wait for more.

I am filing “The Invisible Library” under both “Steampunk” and “Urban Fantasy” because it has elements of both – steampunk and urban fantasy elements are used both as plot devices and ways to define the genre of this book, which works perfectly for me since I don’t like limiting a book to a single genre. My rating for “The Invisible Library” is 9/10.

Favourite quotes

“It is my theory that the greater truths underlying life and death can best be understood as a parable – that is, as a fiction.”

“Sudden death was easy to cope with, seeing as you had no time to ponder. But their impending crash and burn over the British Museum was leaving too much time for dread, with an inevitable fiery doom at the end. Every second seemed to stretch out into an eternal moment of panic.”

“Are either of you two young people skilled with alligators? Do they teach alligator training in Canada?”


Irene – Rebecca Hall

Kai – Godfrey Gao

Bradamant – Indira Varma

Vale – James D’Arcy


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

“The Library of Shadows” by Mikkel Birkegaard

“Magic Ex Libris series” by Jim C. Hines

“Librarian” movie trilogy

“Librarians” – the TV series

Book Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May


Happy Doctor Who season, everybody! Did you enjoy the episode? I loved Capaldi!

Since our new reincarnation is Scottish, I thought it fitting to review a book by a Scottish author that takes place in Scotland.

For me, this was one of those “judge a book by its cover” instances. Although in all fairness, how could I resist purchasing a book with a hot ginger deadly-looking lady on the cover?

Well, when I say “purchasing”, I’m exagerrating a little. One of the perks of having a Waterstones’ card is occasional free books thanks to all the points acquired over time.


Edinburgh, 1844. Lady Aileana Kameron’s mother was murdered last year. According to the high society, it was either a vicious animal attack or Aileana herself killed her mother. Aileana knows, however, that it was a faery. A Baobhan Sith to be precise. Consumed by revenge, Aileana doesn’t have much time or patience for social engagements and dances with elderly gentlemen. She needs to find her mother’s murderer and kill her. And if she kills a bunch of other faeries on the way, all the better. The only two faeries she is somewhat friendly with are a honey-loving pixie named Derrick who lives in her wardrobe, and Kiaran. Tall, dark, handsome, two thousand years old Kiaran, who is allegedly the last of his kind. Derrick is Aileana’s spy, of sorts – he delivers her the news on the Baobhan Sith who murdered her mother. Kiaran, on the other hand, is somewhat of a coach. He is training her how to kill faeries. Naturally, Aileana becomes curious as to why he’s teaching her how to kill his people. Her curiosity is not satisfied however – her renegade-like murders of faeries are causing a stir in the faery population. Luckily they’re all trapped underground under a seal, right?


As midwinter approaches, Aileana discovers that she is a descendant of a line of assassins. The Falconer. And she is the last one left. Unfortunately, that’s not the only bad news. Midwinter is approaching, and with it, a battle. Seal is about to be broken, and faeries are to be let loose onto Edinburgh and the Earth. Would Aileana choose to lead the fight, or is she far too consumed by her thirst for avenging her mother’s death? And where does her childhood friend Gavin, who turns out to be a Seer, fit into all of this?


The best thing about this book was the main character. She felt like a real person. With real struggles. Sometimes, when I read books about ladies getting stuff done, I want to facepalm because there is NO WAY anyone would actually do what is being done in a situation of that kind. With Aileana, however, I felt that I could understand her actions and motivations. While I may have spent less time swooning over Kiaran (I’m lying I totally wouldn’t), I can understand the attraction. And I want to thank Elizabeth May for only making it a secondary theme in the book. Revenge is always interesting to read about, and I’m glad the romance didn’t distract me from it.

It was also lovely to see a steampunk version of Scotland. While I felt that there were too few elements of steampunk in the book for me to really grasp the world created by May, I have a feeling that the next book in the trilogy will explore it a bit more, not unlike “The Hunger Games”. “Catching Fire” was my favourite book of that trilogy, not least because we got to learn more about Panem. What I’m hoping May won’t do, however, is pull an “Allegiant”, i.e. throw all the history and significant elements into the last book. Well, I’m also hoping she won’t pull an Allegiant for other reasons, obviously… Although I have a feeling that May primary wanted to establish the character of Aileana and her motivation in this installment of the series, which I feel that she has managed to do.

In general, this is a good read for someone who is looking for an action-packed book with a badass protagonist. It would also serve as a good introduction to the steampunk genre, if you’re starting out. What one must say, however, is that it doesn’t go further than that. I have read historical fantasy that is more epic (see recommendations), although the character of Aileana is a stand-out. May’s writing is good, but I am not a fan of ending a book on a massive cliffhanger. I know it helps to maintain an interest in a series, but there are other ways to do so. Nevertheless, I will continue with the Falconer series, and my rating is 7.5/10. 


Favourite character development

As I said above, Aileana’s character is my favourite aspect of the book. While we don’t see what she was like before she became a renegade, her actions and thoughts are believeable. As is her development. At the start of the book, she believes that rage and hunt are all that she has left inside her, and her only source of satisfaction is a momentary joy and a power surge she receives from killing a faery. It is clear that avenging her mother’s death is her ultimate goal. However, by the time midwinter rolls around, she realises that her pursuit is not more important than saving the world. May demonstrates her development throughout clever manipulation of well-crafted faeries’ powers and their effect on Aileana, particularly that of Sorcha, i.e. the faery that was responsible for the rage all along. At the end of the book, there is a glossary of faeries and it is explained that Baobhan Sith is highly intelligent and her ability to kill is “aided by mental powers that can deceive a person into meeting her on a dark road of her choosing”. It can be argued that “the dark road”, in Aileana’s case, is her thirst for vengeance. She may not realise that until the last few pages, but by calling it “the dark road”, May can be suggested to allegorically represent Aileana’s character development. Once upon a time, she would have been thrilled at the prospect of fighting Sorcha. Now, we know otherwise.


Favourite quotes

“In what way could keeping me in ignorance be construed as protection? God spare me from such protection, especially when it involves safeguarding my poor feminine sensibilities from life-saving information.”

“Society, it appears, is more accepting of a rumoured murderess than a ruined woman”

“For once, I relish the lack of emotion. Every pretence I’ve built around myself is perfectly intact”. 



Aileana Kameron – Karen Gillan (tall, ginger, Scottish and fierce)

Kiaran MacKay – Gerard Butler (hot, brooding and Scottish)

Gavin Galloway – Richard Madden (blonde, Scottish, brave and sad)

Catherine – Rosamund Pike 

Sorcha – Hayley Atwell



You would enjoy “The Falconer” if you liked:

The Fever series” by Karen Marie Moning

“Gemma Doyle Trilogy” by Libba Bray

“The Infernal Devices” by Cassandra Clare

“His Dark Materials” by Phillip Pullman