Book Review: The Burning Page
The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman, The Invisible Library #3
Librarian spy Irene has professional standards to maintain. Standards that absolutely do not include making hasty, unplanned escapes through a burning besieged building. But when the gateway back to your headquarters dramatically malfunctions, one must improvise. And after fleeing a version of Revolutionary France astride a dragon (also known as her assistant, Kai), Irene soon discovers she's not the only one affected. Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across a multitude of worlds, creating general havoc. She and Kai are tasked with a mission to St Petersburg's Winter Palace, to retrieve a book which will help restore order.
However, such plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy - particularly when the enemy is the traitor Alberich. A nightmare figure bent on the Library's destruction, Alberich gives Irene a tainted 'join me or die' job offer. Meanwhile, Irene's old friend Vale has been damaged by exposure to Chaotic forces and she has no idea how to save him. When another figure from her past appears, begging for help, Irene has to take a good hard look at her priorities. And of course try to save the Library from absolute annihilation. Saving herself would be a bonus.
Back in 2015 I was first introduced to The Invisible Library series by the new author Genevieve Cogman. In a pretty saturated idea, that of book jumping and alternate universes it was in my opinion difficult to come up with a new idea and make it work. In the first book of the series she proved that she had brought everything to this debut to fully draw you into the story. I sadly missed the second book in the series but was fortunate enough to get the third and latest book, The Burning Page.
Just when Irene wanted to catch a breath the portals to in the library start to malfunction and care needs to be taken and permission needs to be asked for traveling. Due to "disobedience" from Irene, she was only send on minor missions as a sort of punishment. With the malfunctioning she has a new chance to prove her own worth (insofar she hasn't done it so far). Irene is charged with a mission to travel to St. Petersburg and get the one book that will put an end to this disaster. But if only it would be that easy.. if you are familiar with this series you know that the supposedly easy mission can turn in a rather dangerous one. Even more so due to the reappearance of an old enemy of Irene, Alberich, to whom we got briefly introduced in the first book of the series. Get yourself ready from a whole bookload and alternative world of werewolfs, dragons and Fae.
Storywise The Burning Page is action packed from start to finish, so that even Irene and you the reader hardly get the chance to catch your breath. This fast pacing for me sometimes doesn't fully work. You need some calm to process all that happened. I didn't need this for The Burning Page though as the story somehow was written just perfectly. When you look at the characters, Irene develops pretty nicely (her powers, wow by the way), I can't say how she was in the second book, but there is a good leap between the first and the third book, there is more about her backstory that comes as a good surprise. One great addition to this story as a character is Alberich, though his presence is building up slowly, when he is present or doing his thing the story radiates some kind of special power. Something dark mystery and very dangerous.
If I would have to compare The Burning Page with the first book in the series it comes to note that Genevieve Cogman has grown as author in both writing and wild ideas. As I said that it was difficult to breakthrough with a bookjumping/alternate world story, it feels that with The Burning Page she has separated herself from the others and breaking new ground.