Thursday, 28 December 2017

And All That Jazz (The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman)
(Warning: Contains major spoilers for the The Invisible Library, and minor spoilers for The Masked City and The Burning Page.)


"This was someone else's story. The library should never have been involved in it in the first place." - Genevieve Cogman, The Lost Plot, page 329

Never has the ending of a book taken me from "Oh my God, NO!" to "YES!" so fast. Thank God for loopholes.

The fourth book in The Invisible Library series takes us to an alternate version of Prohibition-era America where a pair of dragons are battling it out to find a book. The winner will be granted a new, better position in the court of Ya Yu, Queen of the Southern Lands. The loser will die. The Library is, of course, a neutral party in the dragon/fae feud, but there are rumours of a librarian helping one of the competitors. The Lost Plot is really an exercise in fictional politics. Irene's job is to deal with Evariste - the suspected rogue librarian - but the library makes no secret of the fact that they will scapegoat her the moment it looks like they're losing.  

There's a lot of character development here. Irene and Kai are both suffering from the events of the previous two novels. Irene is having nightmares and, at one point, mentions flashbacks. The trauma of what she had to do - something that goes entirely against not only her own nature but also the society she lives in - at the end of The Burning Page has seriously affected her mental health. And she won't tell anyone. Not even Kai. Speaking of Kai, he's still dealing with the events of The Masked City, though his claustrophobia is somewhat inconsistant. The lift is a problem, trapping himself in a crate is not. I suppose it could come down to the fact that he made the choice, but it would have been nice if the novel had addressed it rather than leave us to make assumptions.

A large number of old plot threads reappear in this novel. Most notably, with Vale absent until the final chapter and Silver missing completely, Irene and Kai's relationship comes to the forefront. They admitted there was a mutual attraction all the way back in The Invisible Library, but agreed to keep it professional. Like The Masked City, The Lost Plot is all about Irene's loyalties. She might be partnered with a dragon, but she's a librarian first and foremost...or is she? How much can an organisation conceal from someone? How much can it take advantage of their loyalties? How much can it force them to give up before they snap? At this point, if the Library isn't corrupt, if it isn't the real villain, I'll eat my hat. Irene again notes Kai's over-reliance on her to come up with the ideas and takes steps to address it, which gives us the most interesting plotline of the novel. Evariste, the new librarian, has plenty of reason to distrust dragons. The evolving trust between him and Kai after Irene sent them off together was brilliant to read. 

One thing I love about this series is the culture of the dragons and the fae. The fae are excellent fun with their weaponised tropes, and the dragons are fascinating. This novel is leans heavily towards the dragon-side of things and gives us some new insights into their culture, everything from the importance of family to the way they dress. If you ever thought this series saw order as the lesser of the two evils, you need to pick up this book as soon as possible. The dragons can be just as bad as the fae when given the right incentive.

I'm so sad that the next book in this series is the last. I love this world and I don't want to have to leave it. 

Are there any fictional worlds you love a ridiculous amount?