I’ve been meaning to get to this one for ages, and then Robert suggested I read it while I was feeling cranky and not like reading anything. I’m torn on the rating; I did enjoy reading it a lot, but I also felt like it was a bit scatterbrained, a bit… well, disorganised. Lawless. Chaotic. Which is part of the point of the story, I know, but I felt it also on a narrative level. Something just didn’t quite gel for me. Still, I thought it was a lot of fun and I’ll pick up future books. It’s just that this felt very much like a first book; it reminds me a little of Gail Carriger, in that it hits some of the same highpoints but doesn’t delve into the absurdity that turns me off in the Parasol Protectorate books.
And hey, this is a book about a secret organisation that collect books from alternate worlds and keep them in a timeless dimension where they’re safe. Of course I like that aspect. Even if the mechanical centipedes and armoured alligators gave me some pause, I can quite get behind a whole society dedicated to saving books, and of course books are ties to other worlds. I liked the background with Alberich; liked the slight mystery about Kai and where exactly he’s from, what he is; liked the weird mix of mythology that gives us mechanical centipedes and vampires in the same world. And I especially liked that Vale was an archetype of a great detective, that that appealed to Irene, that part of the background was that chaotic worlds like Vale’s cause people to begin to fall in with the story, and Irene does.
I also like that she’s a capable but not infallible person; skilled enough to use the Language (also a great concept), to think outside the box, but enough of a person to have conflicts with other people, to be not the best at what she does and able to admit that. Some of her interpersonal relationships were a bit too much: her tolerance for Kai, her easy decision not to push him for information; her decision at the end to ask Bradamant not to waste energy hating her. It didn’t ring true there.
Still, pretty fun. Honestly, though? I’d have liked to spend more time exploring the Library itself.