I don’t know why I was rather hard on this book the first time I read it. It’s a romp, and there’s a lot of seemingly disparate elements — mechanical centipedes alongside the fae — but it comes together really well. The main characters are Irene, Kai and Vale, and they’re all pretty fun. Irene is capable, but not infallible. Kai is a bit of a mystery, but also a decent person who genuinely forms bonds with those around him. And Vale is the archetype of a great detective, which is rather fun — especially if you know your great detectives. Brandamant is also interesting: very different to Irene in some ways, and yet I think they do have commonalities, and perhaps that’s why they don’t like each other.
I still wish there was more time spent in the Library itself, but now that I reflect on it, that’s more the book lover in me than the plotter. The Library would severely cramp the action: I’m sure there is a story that would work with that setting, but this isn’t it — these characters aren’t the ones. Not in this book, anyway.
It’s a fast-paced romp, and on this reading, I completely devoured it and loved it. I’m almost tempted to give it the full five stars.