The Masked City is a sequel to The Invisible Library, following the same characters… With possibly even less time in the actual library, which is my only real disappointment here. Technically, I received it to review — but only the day after I’d already bought a copy. I was eager to get my hands on it; the first book was a lot of fun, even if I didn’t enjoy it as much as, say, Bastian’s Book Reviews did. (Trivia: a quotation from his review appears on the back cover, and in the first couple of pages!) I’m actually thinking that based on reading The Masked City, I might have judged The Invisible Library too harshly — I think it quite likely deserved four stars, rather than the three I gave at the time.
The Masked City is a worthy sequel, with all the same intriguing worldbuilding, interplay between characters, and the sense of fun. It’s fast-paced and plays with all kinds of tropes along the way — the master spy, the great detective, the enemy operative… and even fairytales. And dragons; non-conventional dragons, but dragons nonetheless.
And let’s pause for a second to appreciate once again that Irene, the main character, is an undercover Librarian who is protected from deceitful Fae magic by her Library brand, who is tasked with stealing books to strengthen the connections between worlds and stabilise them, and whose magic and ways of travelling and understanding the world all revolve around books.
Sign me the heck up.
Plus, of course, the main character is a woman who knows what she’s doing, who rescues her (male) apprentice and generally plays the hero’s role with aplomb, and knows the power of words — and a good book. Hurrah, say I.
My only quibble is that the extra material at the back isn’t that interesting. If you’re going to give me Irene’s best heists, I need at at least a short story. Not a paragraph!