Though my preference is for lengthy books, no matter the genre, whenever a book by Genevieve Cogman arrives on my doorstep I am tremendously happy. Her Invisible Library series are all quick reads, which might suggest that the books are therefore perfunctory and brief, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The fourth book in the series, The Lost Plot, was published earlier this month, and continues the story of intrepid Librarian Irene Winters, and her apprentice Kai. The story leaves very little room for set up, jumping straight into a book-swap gone wrong which is followed by a mysterious and unannounced meeting.
Within only two or three days the story is over, but the book reads quickly and the time flies – both inside the story and without. The future and neutrality of the Library is in serious jeopardy, and only Irene is available to put things to right as quickly as possible.
Cogman writes with a flare for both the dramatic and the succinct. From a birds-eye view it might seem as if she doesn’t spend enough time in one place or on one plot in order to properly involve the reader in the story. Again, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Genevieve Cogman combines a beautiful writing style, filled with subtle nuances that the close reader will relish, and a fast-paced thread which drives the story through twists and turns and pitfalls without every feeling as if you have stayed in one place too long, or longing to remain somewhere else.
In much the same way that Benedict Jacka is writing a larger story, but split over multiple books – which could arguably be combined into one larger book – Genevieve Cogman writes a quick story, that stands alone and leaves you wanting more. Maybe, somebody could complain that the books are too short and that they are too reliant upon what came before or after – though I would tend to disagree, and in this instance I would disagree intensely. The Lost Plot feels more like a standalone book than the previous three books did, but I am nevertheless excited for more (and as soon as possible, please).
I could take umbrage with the way the book finishes in service of an unfortunate and, in my mind, unnecessary trope, but I am also aware that I am likely in the minority on this. What I wish authors would have the courage to do more does not necessarily line up with an author’s own convictions and beliefs.
But except for a last-page disappointment, The Lost Plot had me hooked from the very beginning. If not for the responsibilities of adulthood, I would have read this in one sitting. I was stoked to be introduced to some new characters, and for characters met in previous books to be left on the shelf entirely. The relationship between The Library and the Dragons is fascinating, but part of me hopes that one or two of the newly-introduced Fae characters will similarly develop a non-violent attachment to the Library and its Librarians. The more I read, the more potential I see for the Fae to be less black-and-white villains and more the same grey that Irene seems to inhabit herself.
The Lost Plot is a fantastic addition to Genevieve Cogman’s oeuvre, and paves the way for a deeper exploration of the fantastic world that she has created.
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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