Filled with fast paced action, thrilling heist moments, great character development
As Genevieve Cogman wrote in the introductory Acknowledgements for The Secret Chapter, “There had to be a heist at some point in the story, didn’t there?” After all the detective genre, spy, and theft books, it was inevitable that Cogman’s brilliant ‘The Invisible Library’ series would go on an ‘Ocean’s 11’ style heist.
What makes any good heist movie transcend the ensemble, however, is the characters, and when your heist team is made up of two dragons, four Fae, and a Librarian … well, George Clooney or Michael Caine, eat your heart out!
One of the most enjoyable facets of Cogman’s ‘The Invisible Library’ series has been the growing intricacy to the relationships between Librarian, Fae, and dragon. The Secret Chapter takes what was built in The Mortal Word – the burgeoning but reluctant development of relationships between Fae and dragon – as well as the ongoing relationships between Librarian and Fae and puts them all together in a way that necessitated close contact and trust.
Of course, things go horribly wrong, but that’s the whole point! What makes this all the better is the unlikely friendships, the twists and turns of the heist, and the slowly evolving larger story that the author is beginning to weave behind the scenes.
I absolutely loved The Secret Chapter, not just because of the main heist-style tropes turned on their heads, but the surrounding family tension between Irene and her parents. One wonders at the author’s own familial relationships, given just how realistically the three personalities (Mother, Father, Daughter) tend to agitate one another like three magnets. That this little subplot bookended the main story served to really humanise Irene and, in tandem with her passion to save her childhood home, really gave depth to her maturation as we have seen over this series.
While the archetypal criminal mastermind in his secret island lair was a great touch and the surprising backstabbing from left field gave this book the feel of an Ian Fleming ‘James Bond’ novel, I felt that some of the best moments were between Irene and the various Fae members of the heist team. Jerome was particularly loveable – and I hope for some sort of surprising reprieve for his character – and Ernst was so cleverly and believably written that the way his character finishes the book is of no real surprise, and it was wonderful. I have no doubt that Ernst and Felix will be making return appearances in the future – or at least, I hope so – and I hope we get to see more of Tina, pronto.
The final quarter of the book was definitely given over to revealing the author’s larger plan for ‘The Invisible Library’ series, but at no point did it feel as if the main plot was being given short shrift. The steady revelations and intrigue which surrounded the real purpose for the heist allowed the story to continue beyond where a successful heist movie can go – standing around the Bellagio Fountains, for example – and bled into the main plot’s conclusion, secondary character development, and overarching backstory revelations.
I can’t wait to see what Cogman has in store for future worldbuilding and historical revelations.
However, I am most excited about the newest character Cogman is weaving into the story – a particular trope that I love, and which I can’t wait to see develop. The next book in the series, The Dark Archive, comes out in January, and I cannot wait!
Unsurprisingly, then, The Secret Chapter was yet another brilliant inclusion in Genevieve Cogman’s ‘The Invisible Library’ series. Filled with fast paced action, thrilling heist moments, great character development – for both primary and secondary characters – and with a tantalising mystery to continue unfolding in future books, The Secret Chapter brought everything to love about great fantasy.
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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