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A fantasy novel by Genevieve Cogman.

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...

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Books in the series:

Tropes found in The Invisible Library Series

  • Alternate History: Every "alternate" has a different history, for example the one that Irene and Kai are in for most of the book is a reality where the British never conquered India and Russia colonized China and Japan.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Irene mentions that her type is dark and morally questionable people, which led to the story with the thief. Later, said thief is revealed to have been a woman.
  • Both Order and Chaos Are Dangerous: The Fae, representing chaos, see humans as little more than background characters who act out whatever role the Fae have for them at the moment. Dragons, representing order, are presented as more reasonable on a personal level, but worlds under their influence have a tendency to develop authoritarian governments. The Library tries to stay neutral and avoids getting involved in conflicts between the two.
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  • The Casanova: Silver is supernaturally charming, due to being a Fae. Irene has to make a conscious effort to resist his advances even whens he's appalled by his behavior.
  • Compelling Voice: The Language can be used for this, although it will wear off eventually and leave the affected person perfectly aware the something was done to them.
  • Corporate Dragon: Despite the fact that Dragons in The Invisible Library are based mainly on Eastern dragon tropes, in The Masked City, Irene meets the King of the Northern Ocean in a cyberpunkish dimension where he and his court take the form of the CEO and executives of a Megacorp.
  • Dead All Along: Dominic Aubrey
  • Demonic Possession: In Irene's alternate, radios have the troubling tendency to get taken over by demons.
  • Dimensional Traveler: All the Librarians. Dragons too, but by different means.
  • The Dreaded: Alberich is so dangerous, the Library, as obsessed with secrecy as it is, will still go through quite a bit of trouble to send a very disruptive message to Irene while she's in the middle of alternate-Victorian London.
  • Eldritch Location: The eponymous Library. It is an enormous building located in a timeless space that seems to be in the middle of a sprawling but unpopulated city. It has a peculiar and somewhat nonsensical layout which occasionally requires people to crawl through small passages to get from one wing to another, and is connected to other realities by sympathetic links based on unique works of literature.
  • Expy: Vale is essentially his Earth's version of Sherlock Holmes, a comparison which gets Lampshade Hanging.
  • The Fair Folk: The Fae, beings from outside of time and space that see themselves as the protagonists of their story and think of normal humans as background actors that exist to fulfill their particular narrative. The really powerful ones have become their story and cannot exist in worlds were reality is less friendly to their nature.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Depending on how chaos-infested a world is, this can manifest itself in vampires, werewolves, fairies...
  • Genre Savvy: Irene knows how chaos-infested worlds change themselves to fit stories, and actively tries to keep herself in a heroic role.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Alberich is revealed to be this, due to being so heavily corrupted by Chaos.
  • I Know Your True Name: The Language works on this, with the added twist that failing to be specific enough will cause it to affect anything within earshot that fits the description. Further, this is part of why Librarians use aliases, for their own protection.
  • Language of Magic: The Language can warp reality to do whatever the speaker wants it to do, within limits - using it on living things or at larger scales takes a noticeable toll on the user.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Most people the Librarians interact with in alternate realities have no idea that the Library exists.
  • Magitek: The alternate Irene spends most of her time in has zeppelins powered by magic.
  • Magic Librarian: Irene and her colleagues.
  • Magical Library / Great Big Library of Everything: The Library itself is this. The Librarians collect books from alternate universes to increase its knowledge.
  • Meaningful Name: Librarians have a tendency to pick these for their covers, and Irene has to caution Kai not to pick aliases that will give too much away.
  • The Multiverse: There are infinite realities.
  • Nom de Guerre: All of the Librarians adopt aliases of some personal meaning. From time to time, Librarians will snark over others' choices of aliases.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The bigger conflict that's at play. The fae represent chaos, and dragons represent order. The Library considers itself part of order, but sees its primary goal as the preservation of knowledge and so tries to stay neutral in larger conflicts.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Most of those seen so far are based on eastern lines, being long and sinuous with strong ties to bodies of water. Dragons can also appear as humans, ranging from scaled but somewhat human looking to indistinguishable from a normal human.
  • Place Beyond Time: Time doesn't pass in the Library. This has its ups and downs, as while people can live forever there, any injuries they have never heal unless directed by the Language.
  • The Rival: Bradamant, the librarian who first trained Irene.
  • The Reveal: Kai is a dragon, which Irene finds out when Alberich tries to drown them and Kai commands the river spirit not to. Later on, the reveal that Aubrey has been Dead All Along, and Irene was previously dealing with Alberich wearing his skin as a disguise.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Downplayed, but implied to be true about many librarians, since people do not age while in the Library. Irene herself has been alive for about 40 years, while still being physically 25.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: There are many secret societies in this universe.
  • Secret Identity: Librarians are expected to build or adopt an alias while visiting alternate Earths. When put on the spot, Kai introduces himself and Irene as Kay Strongrock and Miss Winters. Irene later calls him out on basically cribbing the names from The Three Musketeers.
  • Skin Walker: Alberich can steal people's skin and wear it.
  • Steam Punk: This alternate is at steam-punk levels of technology.
  • Sherlock Scan: Vale does this and this is how he picks up that Irene and Kai aren't who they say they are.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: Chaos infested worlds run on this, and will actively work to alter events to fit plot structures. In particularly Chaos infested worlds humans are little more than puppets that act according to Fey whims.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: This is how Vale figures out that Irene and Kai aren't English, as, according to him, Kai sounds like he's from Shanghai and Irene sounds a bit German.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: One of the hazards of high-chaos worlds is getting caught up in a story and misunderstanding your place in it.
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