Reviewed by Riley
The written word is mightier than the sword—most of the time…
Working in an alternate version of Victorian London, Librarian-spy Irene has settled into a routine, collecting important fiction for the mysterious Library and blending in nicely with the local culture. But when her apprentice, Kai—a dragon of royal descent—is kidnapped by the Fae, her carefully crafted undercover operation begins to crumble.
Kai’s abduction could incite a conflict between the forces of chaos and order that would devastate all worlds and all dimensions. To keep humanity from getting caught in the crossfire, Irene will have to team up with a local Fae leader to travel deep into a version of Venice filled with dark magic, strange coincidences, and a perpetual celebration of Carnival—and save her friend before he becomes the first casualty of a catastrophic war.
But navigating the tumultuous landscape of Fae politics will take more than Irene’s book-smarts and fast-talking—to ward off Armageddon, she might have to sacrifice everything she holds dear….
Review of The Masked City
I started reading The Masked City with some trepidation. The reason? Well, I thought The Invisible Library, book 1 in this series, was awesome. Could The Masked City possibly measure up to one of the best books I have read this year? (Review here.)
Even with the kidnapping of a dragon in the first chapter, I was having misgivings. But, I knew that Irene was going to have to save the day, so I kept reading with a great deal of anticipation!
I should not have worried. The Masked City came through with flying colors. Once Irene left her alternate version of Victorian London and traveled the Fae train to chaos-imbued Venice, the epic fantasy absolutely raced through the pages of a book filled with adventure, intrigue, darkness and pure magic.
Where The Invisible Library relied on the detective skills of Irene, in The Masked City magical skills are embraced, illustrating a portion of the continuum of order to chaos present in the various worlds that the Library endeavors to keep in balance. The steampunk creations of science present in Victorian London were replaced with magic and imagery in Venice. If you have read The Invisible Library, you can expect something distinct with The Masked City.
The Fae-controlled Venice was fascinating. Any city were people wear masks all the time is just a little bit sinister. Managed by The Ten, who had spies everywhere, it was ‘controlled’ by The Ten and any Fae strong enough to ensure his or her story was played out. The concept of Faes creating their own stories was really intriguing – and troubling. I kept thinking about all the logistics involved in the coincidences created by the ‘storytellers’ and those fulfilling the stories. Best not to think too much on that and lean back to enjoy the story.
In rescuing Kai, Irene has a monumental task in a city where she has no friends, one ally that can’t be trusted and many enemies. Early on, she joins a group of young Fae, who help her blend into the city. During this time, she is able to pick up some early intelligence regarding the city of Venice and the prison where Kai is being held. Still, every bit if information she learns makes the task of rescuing Kai seem even more impossible.
I won’t add anymore details about Irene’s mission. I will say that the amazing imagination of Genevieve Cogman had my mind working overtime, with movie-like images of magic-infused special effects. Epic Harry-Potter-like scenes raced through my mind as I tore through the chapters of The Masked City.
Ms. Cogman’s masked city of Venice is dark, colorful, magical and full of potential danger. Irene’s mission to rescue Kai is another highlight of my 2016 reading. If you enjoy fantasy, dragons, and clever librarian-spies, you would do well to check out The Masked City.
ARC provided by NetGalley.
Add The Masked City to your Goodreads shelf:
If you are really enjoying this series, there is some good news for you. Book 3, The Burning Page, will be released in January and it is available for pre-order now: