Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Book: The Invisible Library, The Masked City, The Burning Page, The Lost Plot, and The Mortal World by Genevieve Cogman
Genre: Historical fantasy
Publication date: 2015-2018
Source: e-books borrowed from the librarySummary: The Invisible Library is a library that connects alternate worlds. Librarians, like our heroine, Irene, collect unique works of fiction from each of the worlds. Sometimes, the books are simply purchased, but that wouldn’t make the stories in this series very exciting. Instead, expect theft, duplicity, threat, and other adventures.
The collecting activities strengthen the library, naturally, but they also help balance the forces of chaos and order in the worlds, making them more stable for human inhabitants.
The alternate worlds are on a spectrum from chaotic to balanced, with the Fae promoting chaos and the Dragons promoting order. Humans have the most freedom and choice in worlds that are in the middle. When the worlds are too chaotic, humans become simply props in the stories that the Fae enact. When the worlds are too ordered, the humans behave like automatons, corresponding to the rules of the world.
Thoughts: Those alternate worlds seem kind of complicated, but the series works because each book is set in a different city with a different flavor depending on that world.
The first novel, The Invisible Library, is set in a steam-punk sort of Victorian London. This London ends up being Irene’s home base so we get glimpses of it in other novels, too.
The Masked City takes us to a chaotic version of Venice, one where Carnival never ends.
From Venice, we travel to St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace in The Burning Page, to a version of Chicago that’s overrun by gangsters in The Lost Plot, and to 1890s Paris in The Mortal Word.
I really love the sense of place in this series!
Book lovers will also enjoy the books that show up in some of the alternate universes — extra novels from worlds where Jane Austen lives longer, another book by Herodotus called Myths.
Genevieve Cogman announced the sixth book in this series last month on her blog: The Secret Chapter. According to Goodreads, we can expect to see this book on December 3rd.
Appeal: The bookish element will appeal to librarians and people who love libraries. Others will be intrigued by the off-kilter historical fantasy worlds. This series reminds me most of the Thursday Next novels by Jasper Fforde that began with The Eyre Affair.
Have you read The Invisible Library series? What did you think?