Book Review: The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman

Book Review: The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman (An Invisible Library Novel)

Title: The Secret Chapter

Author: Genevieve Cogman

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group – Ace

Publication date: January 7, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Librarian Irene is summoned to the Library and tasked with negotiating with a Fae for a very specific book needed to stabilize a world Irene has fond memories of. Accompanied by the dragon prince Kai, in human form, the two travel to the Caribbean and find themselves part of an unlikely team comprised of Fae, dragons, and a Librarian charged with stealing a painting from a museum in Vienna on yet another world. Promised anything as a reward, the group sets off to a world where supernatural beings are actively hunted and a trio of dragons hold power. As they puzzle out how to steal the painting, the bigger question becomes whether or not to trust each other.

This is part of the Invisible Library series, something I was not aware of when I requested it from NetGalley. I thought the idea of a librarian teaming up with a dragon and Fae sounded interesting, and was pleasantly surprised to realize I hadn’t necessarily needed to read the previous books, though I also sensed it would have helped make more of the book make better sense. Still, this was an interesting novel, though I do feel like I was missing some pieces of information to paint a richer picture.

The Characters: Interesting Characters, But I’m Missing Something

I liked the characters, but I wouldn’t say I loved any of them. As a matter of fact, I easily confused most of the Fae all the way through the book. I did enjoy how sharply different the Fae and dragons were from each other, though. It was interesting to read how this motley group managed to work together.

It’s a little difficult to comment on the characters when I know this book is the most recent in the series and I haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know them over several stories. I’m a little confused about the relationship between Irene and Kai, but I liked how close they seemed, being able to maintain a friendship and still be able to work together professionally. Still, I felt I was missing out on a few things, so I’ll keep it to I enjoyed the characters, I thought they were interesting, the relationships were amusing to read about, but I was unable to know them well.

The World Building: Fascinating Interconnecting Worlds

I was most impressed by the world building. Even though this was just my first introduction to the series and I haven’t read the books that come before, I was very interested in how the worlds were developed and how they functioned. The idea of multiple parallel worlds whose histories and designs differed by a shade from another was quite interesting, and I would be willing to read the other books just to explore more worlds.

The world in this book involved supernatural beings being hunted by a sort of police force. Of course, the world also contained a few secrets and twisty relationships, and those were fun. It was lovely to see how the world unfolded. I most particularly loved that this was a world that was new not just to me, but to the characters. It was one thing we could all explore.

My favorite part was that the city of Vienna was grounded in the real city, making it easier to jump right into it. Though it differs, greatly, it was still nice to have a springboard to make the transition into another world easier. I especially liked that it was something familiar and it was easy to see how this world could have developed considering I haven’t had the benefit of reading the prior novels, so have little idea of how these worlds function and how they developed.

The Plot: Fascinatingly Criminal, But Way Too Convenient

The thing that most frustrated me with this book was the story. I thought it was interesting in that librarians are little more than thieves and spies, so Irene’s shady dealings and deeds made sense. I liked the idea of having to steal something that added to the greater fabric of the series in order to obtain a book. It was fascinatingly criminal, and I really liked the spin on librarians and libraries.

At the same time, I was annoyed at the way the story moved forward. As interesting as I found the plot, which was why I requested it in the first place, I felt everything was a little too convenient and other parts were seemingly thrown in.  It was irritating when Irene and Kai would get into trouble so easily, only to be able to use magical powers to magically spring free. It was too easy, and made the trouble parts feel like their sole purpose was to either pad the story or serve as tension. By the end of the book, I had caught on to the pattern, so felt very little to no tension when I should have. It was too easy to roll my eyes and just tell myself one or both would use their powers to get out.

I think it’s safe to say I like the idea behind the story. I did not enjoy the execution.

Overall: A Mixed Bag

This book felt like a mixed bag to me. There were things I liked and things I clearly did not enjoy. I loved the idea of there being humans, Fae, and dragons and having them intermingle both on friendly and antagonistic terms. I enjoyed the worlds and the idea between them. I did not enjoy the execution. Overall, though, it was a fun, readable book for someone who hasn’t read the prior books.

How many cups of tea will you need?

3 cups should do just fine

Get your copy (The Lily Cafe is NOT an Amazon Affiliate)

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group – Ace, for a free e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Check out my other book reviews over at the Bookshelf.

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