Librarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he’s been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds.
Kai’s dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people – and the forces of order and chaos themselves.
Irene’s mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it’s always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death.
“Here’s to being a secret agent of an interdimensional Library!”
Which, I feel, pretty much sums up this book, and the series as a whole, thus far. I think one of the strong points of this book is it’s very in-depth, original and thought-out world building. The author has really spent time figuring out how things work in her imaginary world, and pre-empting many of the questions from her readers. The flip side of this is that sometimes the prose can feel a tad bogged down with detail – there’s some telling, not showing, taking place – but it’s an understandable catch-22.
In this instalment, the ever-unflappable Irene embarks on a rescue mission to an alternate Venice, where her kidnapped assistant, Kai, is being held. She’s pretty much on her own, as this mission technically involves breaking a number of official Library rules. I think the book suffers somewhat from the absence of Kai – the interactions between him and Irene were one of the highlights of the previous book, and without him, we’re subject to a helluva lot more of Irene’s internal thought processes. And while I am appreciative of her cool, calm demeanour – no hysterics or dramatics here – I felt very detached from her character and emotions.
It’s worth noting that the action takes place over two days, if I’m not mistaken – which can make things feel quite drawn out at times. And although this review seems full of criticism, I really am appreciative of the concept and the lack of urban fantasy cliches and tropes. It’s definitely worth checking out, both for the world building and the practical Irene, who adapts to whatever shenanigans are thrown in her way – of which there are many.