Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!
[sigh] I wish this review was different…after how much I enjoyed The Invisible Library, I’m saddened to see the direction that the series is going in. I could deal with The Masked City–maybe it was just a momentary lull–but for me, the series has gone from an inventive, inter-dimensional tale to something so much weaker. And while Cogman’s third installment in the Invisible Library was entertaining, it marks a disappointing turn in the series.
Enjoy this week’s review!
Even though her apprentice Kai is out of harm’s way, Irene the Librarian has a far greater task on her hands–the salvation of the Library itself. Alberich, the dimension-swallowing entity that terrorized her not long ago, is on the hunt once more, and he’s out for blood. Meanwhile, the gateways that the Library uses to traverse across dimensions are malfunctioning rapidly, sometimes at the cost of the Librarian’s lives. Bent on saving their home, Irene, Kai, and Detective Vale travel to an alternate Russia, where all is not as it seems. Will they be able to save their beloved library?
[Thom Yorke voice] (I’ve been) LEEEEEEEEEEEET DOOOOOOOWN—
Where to begin…
Compared to the genre-bending, adventurous thrill-ride of the first book, The Burning Page feels incredibly watered down. If The Masked City was the (possible) result of Cogman having used up her ideas, then this was the unfortunate after-product.
The plot felt tragically weak. It fell into the tragic trap of having a villain so powerful that…the readers don’t seem to care. Yes, he’s toyed with Irene and company before with some disastrous results, but there don’t seem to be any stakes. As much as I love Marvel, Alberich feels like some of the MCU’s worst villains (ex. Dormammu above)–they’re all powerful, but there’s hardly any stakes behind them, other than the possibility of tearing the fabric of the world(s) apart. Though Alberich did make some extended appearances in The Burning Page, he only served to make the stakes feel much lower.
Additionally, this book relied heavily on the reader’s enjoyment of the previous elements of the books. There weren’t any sort of new threats–we have the usual werewolves, fae, and dragons, but hardly anything novel (no pun intended) to grab the reader’s attention. Even The Masked City introduced the societal structure and politics of the dragons, but The Burning Page didn’t have much to offer. You’d think that with the possibility of alternate dimensions, there are INFINITE worlds and creatures that dwell in them that Cogman could have used, but sadly, it seems that she’s playing it very safe. Very safe.
But, this isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the book somewhat. I appreciated the extended look into the structure of the Library and some of the other librarians, so that was a good bit of world-building on Cogman’s part. And although the fact that every dimension seems to be fantasy/steampunk versions of historical places (England, Italy, France, etc.), I enjoyed the new setting of St. Petersburg, and all of the details that went into it. The flying sleighs were especially entertaining, and the new setting was a nice reprieve from the dullness of the first half of the book.
Overall, a disappointing addition to the Invisible Library series, but one that at least merited a few entertaining elements. I don’t think I have the will to finish the series now, but it was fun while it lasted. 3.5 sad little stars.
The Burning Page is the third book in Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series, preceded by The Invisible Library and The Masked City, and followed by The Lost Plot, The Mortal Word, The Secret Chapter, and the forthcoming The Dark Archive.
I forgot about this song for AGES, and I rediscovered it a few days ago…needless to say, I’ve had it on repeat for…[ahem] a while…
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!