Mini Reviews: Magic for Nothing (InCryptid #6) – Seanan McGuire + The Burning Page (The Invisible Library #3) – Genevieve Cogman

magic for nothingImprobable, adjective:
1. Not very likely to happen; not probable.
2. Probably not a very good idea anyway.
3. See also “bad plan.”

As the youngest of the three Price children, Antimony is used to people not expecting much from her. She’s been happy playing roller derby and hanging out with her cousins, leaving the globe-trotting to her older siblings while she stays at home and tries to decide what she wants to do with her life. She always knew that one day, things would have to change. She didn’t think they’d change so fast.

Annie’s expectations keep getting shattered. She didn’t expect Verity to declare war on the Covenant of St. George on live television. She didn’t expect the Covenant to take her sister’s threat seriously. And she definitely didn’t expect to be packed off to London to infiltrate the Covenant from the inside…but as the only Price in her generation without a strong resemblance to the rest of the family, she’s the perfect choice to play spy. They need to know what’s coming. Their lives may depend on it.

But Annie has some secrets of her own, like the fact that she’s started setting things on fire when she touches them, and has no idea how to control it. Now she’s headed halfway around the world, into the den of the enemy, where blowing her cover could get her killed. She’s pretty sure things can’t get much worse.

Antimony Price is about to learn just how wrong it’s possible for one cryptozoologist to be. 

Rating: 4/5

Another entertaining instalment of Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series, a dazzlingly original and imaginative world of weirdly wonderful creatures, as well as weirdly wonderful family members – and the weird but less wonderful faction of purists that want to hunt them down.

This is the first time we are introduced to youngest sister Antimony (Annie), who feels pretty hard done by as a result of older sister Verity’s antics – essentially outing them to the entire world on live television. Annie ends up getting sent on a super dangerous mission to infiltrate the family’s enemies, due to the fact that she looks nothing like the rest of them.

It’s an enjoyable romp from start to finish, with some more serious moments thrown in, a hint of romance, and a dash of the delightful talking Aeslin mice. I particularly enjoyed the carnival setting in this one – the atmosphere was so authentically evoked.  While I prefer the author’s other UF series, October Daye, InCryptid is its light-hearted cousin with plenty of humour and a strong focus on family, persecution and subterfuge.

Maybe finding a body had been the icebreaker we needed. In which case, wow, was I staying the hell away from him. Some ice is not meant to be broken.

**

ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.

**

the burning pageLibrarian spy Irene has professional standards to maintain. Standards that absolutely do not include making hasty, unplanned escapes through a burning besieged building. But when the gateway back to your headquarters dramatically malfunctions, one must improvise. And after fleeing a version of Revolutionary France astride a dragon (also known as her assistant, Kai), Irene soon discovers she’s not the only one affected. Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across a multitude of worlds, creating general havoc. She and Kai are tasked with a mission to St Petersburg’s Winter Palace, to retrieve a book which will help restore order.

However, such plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy – particularly when the enemy is the traitor Alberich. A nightmare figure bent on the Library’s destruction, Alberich gives Irene a tainted ‘join me or die’ job offer. Meanwhile, Irene’s old friend Vale has been damaged by exposure to Chaotic forces and she has no idea how to save him. When another figure from her past appears, begging for help, Irene has to take a good hard look at her priorities. And of course try to save the Library from absolute annihilation. Saving herself would be a bonus.

Irene’s adventures feature stolen books, secret agents and forbidden societies – think Doctor Who but with librarian spies!

Rating: 4/5

I really love the concept of this series – librarian spies? Secret bookish organisation that spans worlds? And indeed, the world building has been well thought-out, in terms of how things can happen, when and why. And I definitely enjoyed this book more than its predecessor, mainly because we were back in the world of the library, discovering the ins-and-outs of Irene’s employer.

Irene is a delightful character. She comes across as quite stoic, but she is a professional to the core and will do whatever she needs to in order to get the job done, and bring home the people she loves safely. Sometimes these two elements are in opposition, in which case she prioritises the latter. And while Irene is bloody competent, she is perfectly willing to step back when necessary and let the person with the  required skill set get to work. No unnecessary dramatics from Irene. And that is not to say she doesn’t get emotional – many near-death experiences really put her through the wringer – but she is a loyal Librarian and friend to the core.

In this instalment, the Library, and Irene, are under threat from a former enemy who made his appearance in book one. It’s a race against time to try and preserve this institution from complete annihilation. Poor Irene just can’t catch a break, can she? It was great getting insight into the different factions as well – I have to say, I’m quite fond of the dragons:

Kai had explained, in tones of kindly condescension at human convention, that social gender among dragons was what the dragon in question said it was. And since Li Ming said he was male, then he was male. 

There were some romantic overtures in this one that came out of absolutely nowhere, at least in my opinion. Rather curious to see where it goes, since I had another ship in mind. But I’m absolutely open to polyamory as an option, so there’s always that! Another facet of the book I really enjoyed is how Kai, Irene and Vale work together to solve whatever obstacle they’re facing. Overall, knowing there are two more books in the series, I’m intrigued to see where Cogman takes our favourite trio and their extended crew in future instalments.

The only problem is that it’s difficult to imagine something entirely new. We use the words and definitions of the past to shape our ideas. Something that is genuinely the next evolutionary step is unlikely to resemble anything we can imagine. 

**

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.

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4 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Magic for Nothing (InCryptid #6) – Seanan McGuire + The Burning Page (The Invisible Library #3) – Genevieve Cogman

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