Alberich has disappeared and the valuable Grimm book is safe in the Library. Irene and Kai now reside and work within the alternate Victorian London alongside their new companion, Detective Vale. Everything has worked rather smoothly for the Librarian spy and royal dragon duo, until Kai is kidnapped by the Fae and taken to an alternate Venice enshrouded in dark magic. With the help of Silver, the local Fae leader, Irene must travel through alternate worlds to save her apprentice before a terrible war between order and chaos breaks out.
The world of mystery, books, fantasy, and mythical creatures returns in The Masked City, Genevieve Cogman’s second installment in her Invisible Library series. Accompanied with all of the aforementioned elements found in The Invisible Library, readers will be given even more action and suspense to enjoy. Come the last third of the book, readers will be unable to stop reading until the story’s completion.
One of the elements that makes The Masked City so intriguing is the fact that readers are introduced to the endless possibilities of alternate worlds. With only a few actually being described by what Irene physically witnesses, including the main chaos-infested alternate Venice during Carnival, many more are mentioned that leave the readers’ imagination fantasizing. While the Library exists to collect and preserve important and unique works of fiction from each of these alternate worlds, this sequel does not focus on such works. It would have been nice to learn about more never-before heard of works of fiction, but since Cogman is working on a series, there are more opportunities for that particular focus in future books.
As far as the main protagonist goes, Irene is as strong as ever and continues to grow into a responsible Librarian… that is until her apprentice is taken from her. It is not common in many books for the male protagonist to be the “damsel in distress” and, to be honest, it is a bit of a bummer Kai is deemed as such in The Masked City. Having the current knowledge that Kai is not only a dragon, but a dragon of the royal family, readers will more than likely wish for Kai to “Hulk Out” in his true form. And yet, his situation is justified due to him being a mystical creature of order imprisoned in a mystical world of chaos. Cogman continues to bide her time with placing the two together as Kai is MIA for most of the book; however, readers are given more of a look into Irene’s developing, yet hidden feelings for Kai.
Other main characters make themselves more known in the second installment of Cogman’s series: namely Detective Vale and Silver. Detective Vale played a large role in The Invisible Library and was, no doubt, a favorite among readers given his Sherlock Holmes-like work ethic. While he is aware of the Library and who Irene and Kai truly are, what makes him so intriguing is the fact that he wants to help, but when it comes to helping Irene, he is unsure if he can fully trust her. He is a sophisticated gentleman from a world where women are not as independent as the Librarian and while he respects her, there seem to be times he looks down on her. The local Fae leader, Silver, was introduced in the first book as well, but was given a much larger role in The Masked City. While he may, and is, an arrogant and self-centered creature, he intrigues both Irene and readers as he goes out of his way to help her. Cogman does an excellent job of portraying him in such a fashion in which readers honestly cannot tell if he is entirely good or entirely bad.
The Masked City offers yet another excellent story to Cogman fans, fantasy lovers, and bibliophiles everywhere. Though readers must continue to wait for the main protagonists to be together, much more is included to satisfy readers’ palates. The development of Cogman’s unique characters and the introduction to new alternate worlds keeps the imagination reeling, not to mention the action and suspense that takes up the last third of the book. Even more fantastical elements and promising storytelling await in her third and most recent installment of the series, The Burning Page.