The Masked City
by Genevieve Cogman
Rating: 5 Stars
‘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.
Kai’s dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people – and the forces of order and chaos themselves.
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…’
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review – what follows is my own opinion.
This book is the second in a series and as such will contain spoilers for the first book – The Invisible Library – reviewed here.
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this from Netgalley, but I struggled with the formatting of the eARC as it was sending my eyes a bit funny. Ultimately, I ended up waiting to read the paperback copy I received for my birthday from My boyfriend – thanks Dan! – so I still managed to catch up with Irene and Kai’s antics.
I had high expectations going into this, as I loved the first book so much and it hit on a lot of the themes I’m interested in. I was hoping for another instalment of fun, action and bookishness with a dash of philosophy on the side. I’m glad to say that’s exactly what I got. The second book is just as good as the first but in a very different way. This time Irene isn’t going after a book – she’s going after Kai.
The most important difference in this book is that the stakes have been raised. Irene has been a wanderer for most of her life, but after the end of Invisible she finally has a home outside of the library, along with friends and a steady job. Now that things are going wrong she’ll do a great deal to defend it.
At the beginning of The Masked City Kai is kidnapped by unknown assailants, sending Irene on a covert rescue mission into the realms of the Fae. As a result of this we don’t see a great deal of Kai and Vale in this book, it can’t be helped because of the plot but I hope the gang are back together in the next one!
I can’t say much about the plot without giving the game away, but Irene ends up on a whirlwind adventure that moves along at a clip thanks to the narrative nature of the chaos worlds she ventures into. The pacing feels a bit off in places, largely due to the strange way in which fae worlds unfold – all drama all the time. But it makes it a very quick read.
I loved the entire concept of the fae and the dragons representing chaos and order when it was first introduced and I’m delighted that we got to explore more of it in this novel. I’m also really pleased that Cogman stuck to her own rules. It must have been difficult to write a story in a fae-warped world because of how it affects plot development and the sense of narrative, but Cogman pulls it off with aplomb. She manages to explain why the worlds are as they are without infodump and she still surprises us with how it unfolds without making Irene look naive.
We get to see some more of Lord Silver in this one too and there’s some intriguing interactions between Silver, Silver’s servant and Irene. I hope we get more of these two in the next books as there’s definitely something interesting going on there!
All in all it’s another very strong book from Cogman. I’m really looking forward to the next instalment – The Burning Page – which will be out at the end of this year!