If I thought I loved The Invisible Library, then I am absolutely in love with The Masked City. While I loved The Invisible Library mostly for the idea behind it, I fell in love with Irene in this book. And I am so happy about it.
Irene is just getting used to her job. She and her enigmatic assistant, Kai, have been undercover in an alternative London. But when Kai is kidnapped by the fae, any challenge they might have faced together in the past is blown out of the water. Kai’s abduction could set off a conflict that would destroy worlds, including the alternative London they have been living in.
Irene’s quest to retrieve Kai will include danger, blackmail, fighting, and going off script as she faces multiple foes, an alternative chaotic Venice, and her own feelings.
So we already know that Cogman is brilliant about describing rich and atmospheric settings. This is no surprise here as Venice is a kaleidoscope of dizzying colors. But what bewitched me about this book is Irene. This entire book seems to be focused on her as a character and portraying her skills. We knew she was a wonderfully strong heroine before, but this book simultaneously reinforces her strength, while also showing some of her vulnerabilities.
At the same time, this whole book is grounded by a wonderful exploration of the foundation of the Library beliefs – the differences between the fae and the dragons. (It’s entirely engrossing, just so you know). The main focus of the book is undoubtedly Irene, but at the same time, we are treated to some touching glimpses of Vale’s character.
(On another thematic note, because Cogman is just fantastic at bringing in literary ideas. The fae have this notion of wanting to fit into archetypes and how it influences the world around them. UM THIS IS BRILLIANT. I loved every mention of this. It has this self–reflexivity mixed with wit. Be still my heart).
Irene, the character of my heart, is inventive, courageous, and resilient. And I wish younger me had read this entire series. Irene would have inspired me to be courageous in the face of danger, to dare to be different, and to keep cool.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.
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