I can’t believe this is the final outing for Irene and the Invisible Library gang, and I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour to send this fabulous series off with some fanfare. (BE AWARE: the blurb of this book contains a massive spoiler for the previous book, so don’t read on if you’re not up-to-date!)
Book: The Untold Story by Genevieve Cogman
Publication date: 9th December 2021
Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Black Crow PR. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: Violence, injury, and death; discussions of afterlife; familial abuse.
In this thrilling historical fantasy, time-traveling Librarian spy Irene will need to delve deep into a tangled web of loyalty and power to keep her friends safe.
Irene is trying to learn the truth about Alberich-and the possibility that he’s her father. But when the Library orders her to kill him, and then Alberich himself offers to sign a truce, she has to discover why he originally betrayed the Library.
With her allies endangered and her strongest loyalties under threat, she’ll have to trace his past across multiple worlds and into the depths of mythology and folklore, to find the truth at the heart of the Library, and why the Library was first created.
Okay, first things first: this is the final book of an eight book series, and while each book is fairly self-contained, it would be utterly impossible to write a detailed review without at the very least spoiling the names of who’s still alive and involved, so this will be rather vague out of necessity. I’ll do my best not to spoil anything major, but you’ve been warned!
I love this series, and I hate to say goodbye to it, but if it had to finish, well, this is the way to do it. Over the course of the series, Irene’s adventures have shifted from antique-book-heist of the week to something far more complex, navigating a multi-verse of capricious Fae and dangerous dragons and more often than not, getting heavily tangled up in world-changing politics. Fairly normal for a long-running series to shift focus, but this final book addresses the changes in a really interesting way, getting a little bit meta in a way that I found really satisfying – it made me itch for a reread to see what hints I’d missed! I often say this series reminds me of Doctor Who in the Russell T Davies era: a powerful oddball adventurer who really would like to just get things sorted nicely, on semi-episodic adventures across time and space with a group of misfit friends from different worlds (substitute the Language for a sonic screwdriver, and you even have a cool power that applies in many, but not all, situations). Well, if that’s the case, then this last book would be the big two-parter of the series – big, flashy, full of lore and even fuller of peril. It’s a rollercoaster!
There’s less of a focus on books in this one (gasp!), and more of a swing to thinking about about the nature of stories – the Library’s goal has always been to collect unique texts, ones which differ slightly or massively from the versions of books in the other worlds. Here, we get to think a little bit more about why there are different versions of stories, whether that’s a natural change through linguistic or cultural variation, or a deliberate manipulation for political or personal reasons. As someone fascinated by this in real life, I loved how it was explored here – even if I tend to prefer the standalone adventures slightly more in this series, I still, at heart, am here for the love of books and stories.
I think by the eighth book in the series, you’ll either already be invested or not, so I won’t go into any more detail about the plot or the character arcs – but I can say that if you haven’t already fallen in love with this series, and you like heists, dragons, very capable heroines, or just plain books, go and get started with The Invisible Library at once. You won’t be disappointed. Five out of five cats!