Book of the Year 2016 (see all)
For whatever reason, I was completely taken aback by the arrival of Genevieve Cogman’s The Burning Page on my doorstep last week, but there it lay, and I couldn’t have been happier. Genevieve Cogman quickly became one of my favourite authors when I read her first book, The Invisible Library: Write a story about a secret and mystical group of Librarians who save books from alternate dimensions, and you’ve got me hook, line, and sinker. Follow that up with a tale of those same Librarians told in a hyper-stylised Venice during Carnival, and you have a fan for life.
So when The Burning Page rocked up on my doorstep I was stoked, and immediately set to reading.
And Cogman measures up to her previous efforts – and though she’ll likely never top Carnival Venice (‘cause that’s my jam!), it’s almost as good. The author writes with a speed and verve that keeps you on the edge of your seat through a rollicking good adventure. These are not long books, and in another author’s hands they might represent only a section of a larger book. But here, they are the whole of the individual story – though there is obviously a much larger narrative drawing each book into the next, with goals only the author knows at the moment.
The Burning Page picks up with our protagonist, Irene, on probation for her actions told in the last book. This means relatively tedious book-retrievals (read: thefts) from alternate worlds, jobs that her apprentice, Kai, is not overly happy with. However, before we can become too complacent and join Kai in his moping, things go south, quickly, and this story begins rolling.
Alberich is back, and serves as the primary protagonist in this book, threatening the very fabric of Irene’s world. We don’t know the full story until two-thirds of the way through the book, and by that time we know everything is going to come down to Irene to save the day. But even then, though a vague sketch of things might have become apparent, the excitement and pace of the final third of the book leaves you breathlessly turning the page to see what happens next – and leaves you genuinely saddened at times as well.
The development of some of the support characters, such as Vale, Singh, and Bradamant, serve to increase the reader’s ties to the book and its inhabitants. Vale especially finds himself in hot water, and we get to see a lot more of what makes this great detective tick. And while the world’s visited play much less a role than did Carnival Venice in The Masked City, the Library itself gets more attention than we have had so far.
This is not just an admirable follow up, but an author in complete control of her talent and her characters. The Burning Page is not only hard to put down, it’s hard to walk away from.
Review by Joshua S Hill
Today I have the pleasure to speak with Genevieve Cogman, author of the fantastic and imaginative The Invisible Library. Genevieve has been kind enough to answer some questions about herself and her book, as well as contribut [...]
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