This book was filled to the brim with elements that I enjoy in my fantasy writing. Secret societies, parallel universes, dragons, steampunk, and great detectives. Unfortunately, it also relied on a lot of tropes that I’ve become less fond of in my fantasy writing, such as a point-of-view female character surrounded by supporting male roles, in which the only other woman is an adversary rather than an ally.

I enjoyed reading this book while I was reading it, but every time I had to put it down, I didn’t feel that strong urge to get back to it. Perhaps there was too much potential crammed into one book? I wanted to read about the Invisible Library. I wanted to read about the world Irene and Kai found themselves in. I wanted to read more about Irene and Kai, full stop. Instead so much time was spent on the convoluted politics of all of these things.

Often, I find myself judging the quality of a book by how anxious I am to pick up the next installment of the series. To find out at the end of this one that Irene might not be exploring other worlds connected to the Invisible Library after all left me less inclined to seek out The Masked City. Though I’d happily read it if it fell into my lap.

Cogman’s excellent writing and narrative suffered for her desire to do too much, which resulted in not much of anything to focus on. However, fans of The Magicians and The Chronicles of St. Mary’s should give this series debut a chance.

Rating: 3.5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

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