Monday, January 07, 2019

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman: review

4/5 stars on Goodreads

The Invisible Library series truly matures in this fifth book, The Mortal Word. The story-line that began in the previous book about the peace conference between the fae and the dragons continues, with extremely high stakes. A murder has taken place, which threatens the negotiations, and Irene, with her friend Detective Vale, is called in to investigate. The plot is complicated, with multiple suspects who all seem plausible from the beginning. Even the Library is implicated, which causes Irene a great deal of worry. She has to use all her skills and ingenuity to bring clarity to the situation. Luckily, she has by now enough experience of both dragons and the fae to pull it off.

Irene has learned a lot during the course of the series and grown in strength. I’m not sure, however, that she has grown as a person all that much. The focus of the books has always been on the action, leaving character development to a backburner. For example the revelations concerning Irene’s parents were staggering to her, yet the one time they are present in the same world, she doesn’t even meet them. I found that a really odd turn of events.

Lack of character growth is especially true when it comes to side characters, Kai the most important among them. He is only described from Irene’s point of view, and the few chapters there have been in his point of view have concentrated on action. He still very much comes across the way Irene first pictured him, as an immature young man, and the attempts to give him some depth in the past couple of books haven’t really worked. I had hoped that now that he is no longer Irene’s apprentice, he would mature a little, but he was absent for much of the book, and so that didn’t happen. The few times Irene concerns herself with him and his feelings, she feels pity or fear for him, which I find to be the emotions of an older sister or a mother, or the teacher she was.

This reflects on the romantic relationship, too, that has been building between Irene and Kai. The reader is supposed to understand that the two are falling in loveor at least developing some sort of feelingsbut the one time that there was room for it in the book, the door closed before anything happened. And I don’t mean I required a description of the bedroom action. I wanted the romance that preceded it. Unfortunately the reader isn’t given access to it, which makes the entire romance feel unreal. I hope this improves in books to come.

Other minor characters, even the recurring ones, remain fairly two-dimensional too. The villains of the piece were given much more depth, which obviously improves them greatly. The fae especially are interesting with their affinity to stories and tendency to formulate themselves according to them. With impressive villains, the final battle is impressive too, and the solutions aren’t easy, especially since Irene has a tendency to handle everything herself. Maybe one day she’ll learn to delegate.

This book ends with a new chapter beginning in Irene’s life that promises to be interesting. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series to find out how that turns out.

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

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