Audiobook Review: The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Series: Book 3 of The Invisible Library
Publisher: Audible Studios (January 10, 2017)
Length: 10 hrs and 38 mins
Narrator: Susan Duerden
I have to say this series is really starting to grow on me. While it’s still true that the books are more about the entertainment factor over the substance—not that there’s anything wrong with that, I might add—there’s no denying how great it feels to watch a series evolve over time. I for one can always go for a bit of fluffy fun, but I’m also enjoying how the story and characters have all come such a long way, making The Burning Page my favorite book in The Invisible Library sequence so far.
Last time we saw Irene and Kai, our two secret librarian agents have managed to survive a harrowing foray into the worlds of dragons and Fae, even if it’s only by the skin of their teeth. There have been repercussions, however. The higher-ups have placed Irene on probation, relegating her back to grunt work like simple fetch-and-retrieve missions for the great interdimensional library. Everything seems to be falling back into a routine—that is until one day Irene and Kai find themselves stymied when, after completing their latest assignment in an alternate world, their way back home inexplicably goes up in flames. It seems someone has been deliberately sabotaging the portals that lead in and out of the Library, and Irene has a good idea who that person might be.
If you have not read the first two books, I recommend now that you skip to the end of this review to avoid possible spoilers. Still, even from the beginning we’ve been hearing about Alberich, the mysterious arch nemesis of our protagonist. Back then, he may have been nothing more than a “bogeyman” myth used to frighten young librarian agents-in-training, but he has since grown more powerful, becoming a very real and very dangerous threat to the Library. Alberich has been playing the long game, patiently carrying out plans that have been laid down long ago right underneath the librarians’ noses. Now the time has finally come for him to reveal himself, and he will not stop until the Library is destroyed.
All throughout this book I wanted to cheer and shout, “Now we’re getting somewhere!” Genevieve Cogman has been teasing the Alberich angle for the last two books, and The Burning Page is where we finally get to have some answers. I also like how we’re seeing more threads come together. Instead of being presented with more throwaway scenarios, the story here actually builds upon events that came before so that the series as a whole is feeling a lot more cohesive and complete. Cogman is throwing out plenty of twists and surprises as well, definitely raising the stakes. For a “middle book” of a series, this one is surprisingly full of new and thrilling plot developments.
I also felt more invested in this book than the two that came before, and I’m sure character growth had a lot to do with it. While it’s clear Irene, Kai and Vale are still based on literary ideas, they’re gradually filling out their personalities and becoming more than just their archetypes. And it’s not just the characters either. Overall there are steady improvements in every area, including world-building. In my reviews of both The Invisible Library and The Masked City I talked about the lack in the role of the Library itself. Not that I didn’t enjoy zipping to and from all these different, interesting worlds with our librarian protagonists, but at the end of the day I would have liked to learn more about the inner workings of their headquarters. The Burning Page offered a lot more on that front, giving readers a look at the hierarchy and politics within.
All told I’m glad I’ve decided to continue with this series, as it’s only getting better and better. Not gonna lie; being a book lover, I might have initially jumped on board for the cool premise about a secret library and its network of universe-hopping librarian spies, but now I’m staying for the excitement and the awesome characters. It’s a very addicting series, and I can’t be more pleased to hear there are at least two more installments incoming.
Audiobook Comments: Acting on the recommendations of a few audiophile friends, I decided that for this installment to also give the audiobook edition a try. I’ve heard some amazing things about narrator Susan Duerden, and it wasn’t until afterwards that I realized I’ve actually listened to her work before (for the audio version of Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook). In my opinion she does an even better job as the narrator for this book because her voice is just so perfect for Irene, and when she reads her dialogue I can even picture the character’s mannerisms in my head. If you get the chance to listen to this series in audio, I can’t recommend it highly enough.