Book Review: The Mortal Word 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: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Book 5 of The Invisible Library
Publisher: Ace (November 27, 2018)
Length: 433 pages
If there’s one thing I can say about The Invisible Library series, it’s that I can count on the books being consistently solid and entertaining. That’s why I always look forward to picking up the next installment, and that was most definitely the case too with The Mortal Word.
In this fifth volume of the series, the war between the Fae and Dragon-kind is heating up. Attempts to broker a peace treaty are jeopardized when a high-level dragon is found stabbed to death, and naturally the dragons are quick to point the finger at their sworn enemies, the Fae. Our protagonist, the time-traveling, parallel-worlds-hopping, book-stealing Librarian agent Irene Winters, is thus tasked to get to the bottom of who committed the murder before the situation can devolve any further. Joining Irene on the investigation is also Vale, her talented detective friend, along with some backup from dragon prince and former Library apprentice Kai.
Meanwhile, the peace talks must go on. As a representative of the Library, Irene must oversee the meeting with the eye of a neutral mediator, as well as ensure that the process goes smoothly. However, someone is bent on disrupting the talks with poisoning and deadly sabotage attempts, causing even more trouble for Irene and her team. With the stakes so high, anything can happen now to tip the fragile balance between Order and Chaos, potentially threatening the fate of countless worlds connected to the great interdimensional Library.
Somewhat breaking with tradition, this installment does not involve much book stealing or hunting. Instead, granting Irene one of her long-held childhood dreams, Genevieve Cogman sends her protagonist sleuthing in an entertaining and wonderfully executed murder mystery plot. It was quite a treat to see Irene relish in this role, which includes plenty of new responsibilities requiring her to exercise different talents and skills. But it’s not all fun and games as our girl learns that with leadership also comes accountability and all the pressures that come along with it. Worse, her new position plunges her into the complicated world of Library politics, and more than once, Irene is forced to pit her own professional standards against her loyalties and natural instincts to follow orders.
By following a more traditional mystery plot, however, this book also features a more conventional storyline as well as a less elaborate and flamboyant setting. Compared to The Lost Plot, the previous novel which transported readers to a world reminiscent of the American Roaring Twenties complete with fedora-wearing, tommy gun-toting, jazz-listening gangsters, the worlds of The Mortal Word seemed downright tame. However, Cogman knows balance. The areas of character development and relationship dynamics are where this one shines. As a Vale fan, I was very happy with the prominent part he ended up playing in this novel. I was also pleased with the attention given to the bond between Irene and Kai, especially given the all the recent challenges they’ve been through together. I also loved how the story made more room for characters like Lord Silver, as well as some truly fascinating Fae figures like the countess or the princess.
All told, this was another exciting and fun-filled romp through the myriad worlds of The Invisible Library along with my favorite Librarian spy, and I particularly enjoyed the elements of mystery and intrigue that featured so strongly in The Mortal Word. The combination of humor, adventure and the constant pleasure of not knowing what to expect always makes picking up an installment of this series a special treat. Every book is a surprise, and I’m eager to find out where Genevieve Cogman will take her fans next.