I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...
Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen.
London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.
Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself...
While not perfect, this book was certainly enjoyable for me. It had many of the things that appeal to my reading sensibilities—libraries, book collecting, an urban fantasy vibe, espionage, detectives, and it was not overloaded with romance. It reminded rather strongly of Lisa Shearin’s SPI Files, which in my books is a good thing.
It was kind of overloaded with concepts, however, which prevents it from reaching the pinnacle of 5 stardom, in my opinion. So many different kinds of creatures/people just got thrown in, it was almost overwhelming. Vampires, Fae, werewolves, black magicians, dragons (who can appear human), not to mention the somewhat shady librarians. The one vampire, for example, just seems to get tossed in—he only makes an appearance as a body, truly dead this time. Add to that the use of the expert detective, à la Sherlock Holmes, plus alternate realities, and there was an awful lot going on. In fabric, I’d say that the pattern is “busy.”
Still, I enjoyed every page of this adventure. It is a first book of a series and I hope that the clotting of too many ideas will even out a little in the second book. And that second book is still “on order” at my public library—this will force me to pace myself while reading this series.
Highly recommended to others who toil in libraries and sometimes feel unappreciated!