Cons: minor quibbles
Irene works for the Invisible Library, an edifice that stands outside of time and space, with access to numerous worlds, each with different levels of chaos and order, magic and technology. Librarians enter theses different worlds and secure unique volumes of fiction in order to advance knowledge and prevent loss. Irene and her new trainee, Kai, are sent to London in a magic-dominant alternate with a high chaos infestation to retrieve a particular Grimm manuscript.
When they arrive, they find the manuscript has been stolen, and numerous interested parties are looking for it.
While you don’t learn as much about the library in this book as I’d have liked, you do get some idea of how it and the librarians work. The magic surrounding the Language is pretty cool. The idea that words have power and names show truth is an old one, and used to advantage here. I really liked the idea that there are factions in the library, and you can’t always be sure you’re being told everything you need to know before a mission.
The world they’re sent to has an interesting mix of fae, vampires, and zeppelins. I liked how magic effects how technology works, so that different worlds are forced to evolve in different ways.
The plot is pretty straight forward, with several mysteries introduced and events propelling the characters from one event to the next. There’s enough downtime to get to know Irene and Kai a bit. You don’t learn much backstory for them, the book stays pretty centered on the immediacy of the action.
I did find the antagonist a bit on the talkative side in a Bond villain kind of way. I also thought Irene gets a bit too lucky with regards to leads on the case and the experimental use of the language. Minor quibbles, though.
On the whole this was a fun romp with a great mystery that will keep you guessing about who you can trust and why everyone wants this book.