This is my bookreview of “The Masked City” by Genevieve Cogman. This is the second in a book-series about the interdimensional book-stealing librarian, Irene Winters.
Borrowed from the authors webpage:
“Librarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he’s been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds. […] Irene’s mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it’s always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death.”
(As this book is part of a series, you might want to start by reading my review of “The Invisible Library” first).
The Masked City brings us to a dark Venetian fairytale drama, with full speed intrigues and dramatic gestures. All the mystery and masks and ballroom ambience serves the story very well as we are centered around the Fae community this time. With Kai being kidnapped, Irene is more on her own than she is in The Invisible Library and has to rely on her own abilities.
I was thouroughly enjoying the level of dramatic flair and melodrama that the Fae characters bring into the universe. Although it at times had a risk of feeling too stereotyped and fun-for-the-author-to-write. Reading The Masked City with that in mind and a love of all things Venetian and melodramatic, it’s very worth the read. I was a bit dissapointed there weren’t more books or bookish references. I mean, Irene still works for The Library. Instead it’s all about her assistant being kidnapped.
Here comes the spy!
As Irene travels to a very high-chaos world to try and save Kai, she is surrounded by Fae in high numbers. Some more deadly and dangerous than others. The Masked City introduces us to a greater variety of Fae characters than we’ve met in The Invisible Library. All these new archetypal Faes fit perfectly into Irenes mission and she, as the capable spy she is, learns to take advantage of their nature. While she gathers information and try to navigate the tempers and politics of her Fae encounters, Irene is also running for time. The added pressure of the gateway to the world closing in a specific time, Kais kidnapping and a not-so-secret-police in this world’s Venice, creates a good tempo for the story.
Not all the elements in The Masked City are created with equal attention to detail. In some instances, Irene seems to get away a little too easy. Other situations just escalate with no apparent reason other than the world being high-chaos and run by Fae. Cogman might need to review her worldbuilding a little, to make sure that future books set in high-chaos worlds, aren’t compromised by the archetype nature of the Fae she is portraying.
With that said, I actually really liked the book. I love having more to read with one of my new soon-to-be-top-ten heroines, Irene Winters. She is still super sassy, witty, clever and kick-ass. She understands and is aware of both her attributes and flaws, without being too self aware.
Irene is definitely becoming a main character with plenty more stories to offer, with or without Kai and her friends/enemies so far. This could easily be a neverending series of amazing mysteries, starring the interdimensional book spy. I’d totally read them all!
I am so excited for the next book in the series – The Burning Page!
Have you read any of the books about Irene Winters or her universe? Let me know what you think!
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