Friday, January 08, 2021

The Dark Archive by Genevieve Cogman: review

4/5 stars on Goodreads

The Dark Archive by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman has advanced to its seventh book. It’s been an interesting series so far, with slightly uneven quality when it comes to the plots; some are really convoluted, some more simple. The Dark Archive sits somewhere in the middle, with a fairly straightforward plot and multiple adversaries.

The series is set in a universe where there are several parallel earths in various stages of development, with similarities to ‘ours’ in those eras, but with some differences too, like a world where Nazis weren’t defeated, for example. The world where the main characters spend most of their time is Victorian with airship travel and other steampunk elements, but there are highly advanced far future societies as well, and everything in between. The parallel worlds fall on spectrum from highly orderly to high chaos, with dragons ruling over the first and the fae the latter. Humans are found in all worlds, but they don’t have much say in how they are governed by the more powerful forces.

In the middle of everything is the Library that exists between worlds, connecting them through libraries. Its job is to maintain some sort of balance between order and chaos. This it does by collecting books from each world to the Library that anchors them. Librarians are more thieves and spies than anything else, and none more so than the main character Irene.

There are, of course, forces that try to push the worlds off balance, and Irene, with the help of her dragon apprenticecurrent love interestKai, and recurring cast of characters, has the thankless job of thwarting them. In this seventh book, two former foes that she has believed dead return. As always, it’s much down to Irene’s ingenuity to make sure everyone survives, even if it means that the enemy lives to try again.

These books are very much plot-driven, and issues like romance are secondary; heavy on action and light on emotions. The romance between Irene and Kai comes across as an afterthought, and after several books it still doesn’t feel believable. Partly this is because the two are very different, partly because the reader never sees them in normal situations where they might have time for their romance. But at least Kai has a proper role in this one. There’s a new character too, Irene’s fae apprentice Catherine who seems like a good addition.

Once again, Irene’s world is badly shaken with information concerning her real parentthough this reader at least had suspected it already. And the book ends with an introduction of an entirely new force working behind the scenes. Time will tell whether they are for or against the Library. I, for one, will definitely continue with the series to find out.

 

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