The Library’s purpose is to collect and store books from all realities. Irene is a Librarian, whose job it is to venture into different alternates and retrieve books for the collection. They may be those which only exist in one world or which circumstances in that dimension has changed the book. These missions are often dangerous, but when she is instructed to take an apprentice into an alternate with a chaos infestation, things are going to get much worse.
There was nothing wrong in being curious about how a story turned out, after all. She was a Librarian. It went with the job.
The Invisible Library was such a fun read, something I often think we need more of in our lives. Irene is loyal to her profession, and she is determined to do a good job, not sit around brooding about things. Books are her life. She is particularly fond of detective novels, so meeting and working with a Great Detective is a distraction for her but, ultimately, won’t get in the way of the mission.
There is a definite steampunkesque, Victorian vibe about the alternate she visits in this adventure. However the Library does have email so it’s not necessarily set in the past. Perhaps the Library is outside time, though there are plenty of mentions of long-distance communication devices in other alternates, so I think this one may just be one that hasn’t advanced so much. But they do have airships and clockwork alligators.
The Language always worked well when it was instructing things to be what they naturally were, or to do what they naturally wanted to do.
Once initiated into the Library, Librarians have the power to use the Language, which is pretty much telling things to do things but with the use of properly defined words and grammar. You have to be careful not to be sloppy with vocabulary and verb choice, as Irene often finds out. The idea is that something must be properly defined for it all to work; a bit like in stories where genies grant wishes but not in the way the wisher intended.
I liked the idea that chaos was what made some alternates more like fiction. The chaos infestation gives worlds things like fae, vampires and werewolves, but also means they have narratives and tropes that aren’t always logical in the real world. Although what exactly is the real world in this universe, who knows. Strangely enough dragons aren’t chaotic, quite the opposite…
The love child of Thursday Next and Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate books, I highly recommend this to readers who love bookish books with a big dollop of adventurous escapism. It’s a bit silly in places but it’s half the charm. I definitely want to read more if this is going to be a series. Please, let it be!
The Invisible Library is published by Tor and is available now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Also reviewed @ A Fantastical Librarian
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.