Irene has been living and working for The Library her entire life. Her parents were librarians, and she has never thought about doing anything else. The Library is her life. The Library itself exists between worlds, multiple realities, all of which have their own books and documents which are deemed to be worthy of archiving and saving. Curiously, no one has ever left the buildings of the labyrinthine buildings which form The Library proper, the outside world can be seen, but no one has apparently ventured there. Time itself stands still within the library; therefore in order for Irene to have grown up at all, she was placed in a school within one of the multiple “alternates”.
Irene’s latest assignment involves locating a particular copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales from an alternate with a high level of “chaos”. Ordinarily a world like this would have been closed off for safety reasons, as the chaos is capable of infecting other worlds, and possibly The Library. To make it even more difficult, she has to mentor a new trainee librarian, Kai. Irene’s investigation leads her to analternate London with vampires, fae, conspiratorial organisations, a certain “Great Detective” (but not quite “that” one), and a rogue librarian (or two) to contend with. Possibly, even the intervention of a dragon.
This novel has plenty to offer: action, intrigue, fantasy and a mystery to unravel. Genevieve Cogman is a very competent writer, bringing these characters to life with vivid descriptions of physical places, scenarios and thought processes. There is a very “steampunk” feel to this particular reality in whichthe characters find themselves. However with the nature of The Library and its’ access to multiple realities (hello string theory!) the number and type of future narratives could be limitless.
I did, however find myself picturing Christian Kane in the part of “Kai” – simply because of the latest series of The Librarians on the SyFy channel! That show is completely unrelated to this novel, but due to the nature of the Library itself, my brain drew its’ own parallel!
I would recommend this book highly. A great romp through a similar, and yet different, London. Watch out for the cyber-enhanced crocodiles!