The Masked City is the sequel to The Invisible Library and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous book.
When Irene’s assistant Kai goes missing from an alternate London, the Librarian soon discovers he’s been kidnapped. An action that could bring forth a war between dragons and Fae. Yet Irene’s more concerned about saving her friend, even if it means travelling to a world where chaos rules.
The purpose of the Library is to preserve humanity from either absolute reality or absolute unreality.
The second instalment in this series made the alternate worlds seems much more like book worlds, which has fuelled the comparisons to Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books. This time Irene finds herself in a version of Venice ruled by the Fae and whilst Lord Silver isn’t exactly her friend, he’s not the enemy he once seemed. Though one has never entirely trust a Fae.
This alternate Venice is a high chaos alternate; the kind that are padlocked and barred from the Library. To travel there risk becoming contaminated. The narrative of this world bends itself around the most powerful, in this case the Fae in charge. Irene must avoid becoming noticed by the main players of this story and remain a background character. If it’s not her story, then surely she’ll be killed if she crosses the protagonist.
I really enjoyed the way storytelling was portrayed. There are narratives so strong that they can’t fail to play out in this world, unless you are powerful enough to bend them. Or, of course, avoid the scenarios that trigger them.
Irene mentally cringed at the dialogue, lifted straight from Plots Involving Heroines Too Stupid to Live, Unless Saved by the Hero.
This version of Venice is the romanticised city of our imaginations. Irene notes how it doesn’t smell of sewerage and of course it is Carnival, where the city is flooded by masks and masquerade balls. A handy disguise for any good Librarian. The gondoliers still seem eager to take advantage from out of towners in this alternate.
I found the ending a bit abrupt. It’s definitely left at a place for there to be another book. I don’t think I’m too worried about Irene though. I think she did good by the Library, even if she did bend a few rules.
Most people don’t want a brave new world. They want the story they know.
The Masked City is published by Tor and will be available in paperback and ebook editions from 3rd December 2015. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.
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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.
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