My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
For any bibliophile, the library is a very special place. For Irene, it is more than that: it is her entire life. Irene is an agent of The Library, a top secret group that hunts down and preserves rare books from different alternates in time. Her latest mission is to travel with her new trainee, Kai, to an alternate London and track down a copy of Grimm’s fairy tales. For an experienced librarian, the task should be simple enough, but when Irene arrives in London she realizes that the case is going to be much more complicated than she imagined.
The book has already been stolen and everyone, both human and supernatural being, is trying to get it back. What could be so special about a book that is causing a group of Fae, werewolves, dragons, and mechanical beasts to wreak havoc on London? Irene has no idea, but she’s on a mission to find out.
I had high hopes for this book. The story was like something straight out of a Steven Moffat script, incorporating elements of both Doctor Who and Sherlock (two of my favorite TV shows, btw). The concept of The Library and its undercover agents intrigued me from the first few pages. There were so many questions I couldn’t wait to get answers to. When/where in the universe did The Library exist? Was there someone behind it all? What exactly made the books that the librarians’ hunted so special?…Unfortunately, I felt as though my list of questions only grew longer and longer as the book went on, with many of them remaining unanswered.
Overall, I enjoyed the story that was being told. The elements of fantasy and mystery blended together well without being too over the top. The characters and the setting in which the story took place were fun. The alternate London that was presented reminded me of the steampunk London that I have encountered in other stories. I enjoyed the mash up of mechanical and mythical creatures, all residing together in the same city, however, I would have liked more detail about all of them. There wasn’t much background information given regarding the Fae and the Iron Brotherhood (who seem to be responsible for all the horrible metallic creatures that showed up an tried to kill Irene). The magic used by the inhabitants of London wasn’t explained very well. The city was a danger to librarians due to it being contaminated by magical “chaos.” I never really quite grasped what this was supposed to mean. Was the chaos the presence of magic itself? Was it the presence of so many different magical beings all locked into one city? Or was it the type of magic being used? Even after having finished the book, I am still somewhat confused by the whole notion. Even more irksome, was the lack of detail about the Language that the librarians used. Whenever Irene made something magical happen, she spoke in the Language. She also mentioned that certain books The Library collected were significant in the fact that they could influence the Language. But how? What exactly was the Language? Did the librarians just acquire it over time, or was it taught to them? How was the Language different from other forms of magic?
I applaud the author for her creative story, but I hope for the sake of those who are continuing to read the series that she will clear up a few things along the way.