Genevieve Cogman – The Invisible Library

I completed The Invisible Library on my second tilt, but I have to admit I didn't enjoy it anywhere near as much as I had hoped to. The pitch was great: a timeless Library sends its intrepid Librarians into worlds scattered across alternate universes to retrieve important books for safekeeping. Sadly, I never really warmed to the delivery.

On the positive side, it's short, fast-paced and features entertaining set pieces in the Natural History Museum and the British Library, along with a smart, determined heroine and a practically mustachio-twirling Fae villain who is at least amusing in his sheer over-the-top arrogance.

Given that alternate realities tend to allow for great fun riffing off well-known tropes, it's unsurprising that many of the ingredients feel borrowed and twisted to new purpose. But I found it all a bit stifling rather than invigorating, as if the whole thing were somewhat forced. I think I'd cheerfully watch it as an over-the-top derring-do movie in the vein of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, but I didn't enjoy reading it. At a push, I'd say it felt a bit superficial, which I accept in a movie in a way that I don't in fiction; I'll forgive a lot if a film is shiny and has a great script.

I had a similar reaction to The Affinity Bridge, so I'm prepared to admit that steampunk does absolutely nothing for me in print, even when it involves faeries and books.

All in all – it's fluff and it's fine, but I won't be investigating future instalments.