Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and good holiday cheer and health to all who don’t! I am sorry for my prolonged absences – I hate being a broken record, but my new job has made it so that reading is my only source of pleasure. One of the most exciting things about this month was getting to read The Dark Archive by Genevieve Cogman, the newest book in the Invisible Library series. Thank you, Netgalley and Berkley, for this opportunity! It was so worth the wait. I have been a devoted fan of this series since it came out, and Book 7 is the first one I have gotten to pre-review.
From the Publisher:
A professional spy for a mysterious Library which harvests fiction from different realities, Irene faces a series of assassination attempts that threaten to destroy her and everything she has worked for.
Irene is teaching her new assistant the fundamentals of a Librarian’s job, and finding that training a young Fae is more difficult than she expected. But when they both narrowly avoid getting killed in an assassination attempt, she decides that learning by doing is the only option they have left – especially when the assassins keep coming for them, and for Irene’s other friends as well…
In order to protect themselves, Irene and her friends must do what they do best: search for information to defeat the overwhelming threat they face and identify their unseen enemy. To do that, Irene will have to delve deeper into her own history than she ever has before, face an ancient foe, and uncover secrets that will change her life and the course of the Library forever.
What I Absolutely Loved:
- Catherine, the fae librarian. Catherine has one of the most fun character arcs. As the niece of Lord Silver, Catherine was introduced in the end of book six as Irene’s new apprentice. Not much was know about her other than that she is fae and Lord Silver wanted her in the Library somehow (a feat never accomplished prior), so naturally, I assumed she would be as deliciously depraved as the Lordship himself. However, I was unpleasantly, then pleasantly surprised to realize Catherine is nothing like Lord Silver at all. She is young, earnest, and wants to be an archetypal librarian with a lower case “L” – not a kick ass, espionage riddled Librarian like Irene, just someone who loves and nurtures a love for books and shares knowledge. While at first, Catherine is whiny and I was unsure of her motivations, the longer I “got to know” her, the more she becomes a valuable member of Irene’s “team” and the more I grow to like her, despite being a pawn in the Dragon/Fae/Librarian treaty. I also empathize with wanting to be a quintessential “librarian’s librarian”; who among us wouldn’t?!
- The Action Scenes. Say what you want about the Invisible Library series, but there is always fun and thrilling action, with Irene, Vale, and Kai getting into sticky situations and coming out guns/magic/fire/waterworks blazing. The Dark Archive was no exception – within the first 50 or so pages there is already two assassination attempts with poison, parasitic brain eaters, disappearing doors, and shoot ’em ups. There is a kidnapping, blazing buildings, tightrope walks, and magical scientific experiments. One of the best parts of this series is seeing the creative ways that the trio survive in world(s) where most people want them dead. Cogman really amped up the pressure in The Dark Archive, bringing even more thrill than normal.
- The Twist. It is impossible for me to expand upon this for obvious reasons. I will just say, for fans of the series, this was a bombshell. The past couple of books have had a feeling of tension leading up to something big, and I am excited to see it come to fruition.
What Didn’t Work *as* Well:
- Kai’s brother Shan Yuan. In The Dark Archive, we are introduced to another one of Kai’s siblings (as royalty of a long lived race of dragons, Kai has a lot of siblings) – Shan Yuan, a tech obsessed dragon who is somehow both incredibly jealous and weirdly protective of Kai. Yuan inserts himself into the gang’s activities when Kai needs to bring him in on a laptop project, and from there, Yuan screws up everything he touches. He is that coworker that you reluctantly bring into a project for the help 75% of the way in who then tried to change how it is run and loses you the client. In this case, Yuan almost gets one of the gang killed, and has no idea because he is an arrogant dragon princeling. Yuan is not supposed to be likable, but I felt it was a step further and he actually muddled the story up and didn’t provide value, as compared to the last appearance of Kai’s siblings in prior books, which was well executed.
- The (lack of) Kai/Irene action: Make no mistake, the Invisible Library series is not a romance series. There is no steamy scenes for the most part, and Irene and Kai have a loving relationship that is not generally at the forefront. However, I love their dynamic in both the platonic and romantic sense, and he fact that Irene and Kai spent so much time apart this installation really, for lack of better term, bummed me out. They are better together. I did love that Vale was more active, though.
That is really it. While The Dark Archive wasn’t the strongest in the series, it is another great book in a long line of great books in the Invisible Library series.
The Dark Archive is book seven in the Invisible Library series, and I have never recommended a series more. Genevieve Cogman manages to fit in steampunk, dragons, fae, werewolves, librarians, different worlds, and international/interworld politics into one series and it all works, and works well. She has Sherlock Holmesian characters, evil masterminds, and libertines. I have never found a fantasy series that touches on so many points and gets them all right. Book seven is no exception.
One caveat: This series is not the type to read as standalone (it is hard to fit that much worldbuild that would allow readers to read out of order). If you haven’t already, check out book one, The Invisible Library, where we first meet Irene, Kai, and Vale (order your copy here and enjoy every word!) If you have read this series and enjoyed it, The Dark Archive definitely won’t disappoint! Preorder your copy here and enjoy it super soon on December 29! Four waves out of five for The Dark Archive, but this series is a 10 out of 10 in my book (hehe).