I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4 Stars
The London air was full of smog and filth. Kai’s senses were better than those of a human, though he tried not to be too self-indulgent about it. But even he couldn’t see down a dark alley any better than the average Londoner.
Irene and her apprentice Kai have settled into their lives as librarian-in-residence in a world of Fae, brilliant detectives and airships.
But then Kai is abducted by the Fae. He’s not even in this particular world anymore. What’s worse is that, since he’s a dragon of royal blood, his abduction could spell war. With dire consequences for whole worlds.
Determined to rescue her apprentice and prevent a war, Irene follows Kai into a world dominated by the Fae, where everyone wears masks and danger lurks around every corner.
I loved The Invisible Library. It was fun, exciting and full of awesome characters. It gripped me, threw me into the story and didn’t let go until I reached the end.
The Masked City didn’t start like that. I loved the banter between Irene and Kai in the first book and I loved that there was no romance. The Masked City starts with dialogue between the two that is bafflingly melodramatic. Here’s them reacting to the fact Kai is asked to visit his family:
“You’re sending me off to my family. You’re treating me like any other apprentice. You don’t seem to care that they might order me to leave. You don’t …’ He looked at her, his face full of yearning and uncertainty. ‘If you want me to go, then I will go, but…’
I was so afraid that the rest of the book would devolve into some sappy romance plot.
But it didn’t!
Because Kai is abducted and doesn’t play much of a role for the rest of the book. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Kai, but I’ll take him as damsel in distress over soap opera style dialogue any moment. As soon as Kai’s gone the book gets awesome again. Because Irene of course won’t sit around and cry. She’s gonna get out there and find her apprentice, no matter what it takes.
And it takes a lot. She has to get into a Fae stronghold and she has to trust Lord Silver, the notoriously untrustworthy Fae. As in the first book, Irene is amazing. She is smart, resourceful and determined. She faces dragons and Fae and does not back down.
She would just have to trust to luck.
Irene hated trusting to luck. It was no substitute for good planning and careful preparation.
I really enjoyed Silver. He’s so much fun to read about. A seductive Fae? And a protagonist that doesn’t fall over swooning? Sign me up.
Despite him being all smooth seduction and pretty looks, he still feels dangerous. He’s very well written because we never forget that you can’t trust him. He can turn on Irene any moment but she has no choice but to trust him.
His hand cupped her face and he bent in to brush his cheek against hers, to whisper in her ear. “And if you are caught, my dear, that will be where they will take you, however much you scream and struggle, however prettily you beg, however desperately you fight.” His voice caressed the words.
In general, the book does atmosphere incredibly well. There was always a sense of urgency, of time ticking away for Kai. There’s always a sense of danger as well. I loved that. The Fae are so much fun and you want to like them, to trust them. But the book doesn’t let us forget how dangerous they are and how easy it is to fall into their traps.
There’s also another awesome world: The Masked City, Fae bastion. It is so saturated by Fae chaos that it’s more story than a real city. I loved it. I have a fondness for Venice and masks and mysteries.
Stories formed easily here, and she would be just one more protagonist with a story to tell. On the other hand, she might wander into the crowd and be met by someone, such as Lady Guantes, who needed to meet her to continue her own story. And that would be catastrophic for Irene.
A great second book in the series. Fun, intelligent characters and a gripping plot make for a book that is hard to put down.