Time-travelling, dimension-jumping, Librarian-spy Irene and dragon-prince Kai will have to team up with an unlikely band of misfits to pull off an amazing art heist—or risk the wrath of a dangerous villain with a secret island lair.
A Librarian’s work is never done, and Irene is summoned to the Library. The world where she grew up is in danger of veering deep into chaos, and she needs to obtain a particular book to stop this from happening. Her only choice is to contact a mysterious Fae information-broker and trader of rare objects: Mr. Nemo.
Irene and Kai make their way to Mr. Nemo’s remote Caribbean island and are invited to dinner, which includes unlikely company. Mr. Nemo has an offer for everyone there: he wants them to steal a specific painting from a specific world. But to get their reward, they will have to form a team, including a dragon techie, a Fae thief, a gambler, a driver, and the muscle. Their goal? The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, in an early twenty-first-century world, where their toughest challenge might be each other.
About the Author
Genevieve Cogman is a freelance author, who has written for several role-playing game companies. She currently works for the NHS in England as a clinical classifications specialist. She is the author of The Invisible Library, The Masked City, The Burning Page, and The Lost Plot.
Read an Excerpt
Smile and circulate," Irene said through gritted teeth, drawing her skirts back from the blood that had spattered by her feet. She watched the brightly coloured mob in front of her. "It might be messy, but it was only a duel to first blood. It's not as if anyone was killed."
Servants in spotless white and black had come scuttling out like cockroaches to wipe the floor clean and provide fresh cocktails for the onlookers. The height of London's fashion mingled with the cream of its notoriety, assisted by a wide selection of drink and drugs. The chandeliers, sparkle as they might, did very little to light up the corners of the room. Here, the more serious or depraved of the Fae present smoked opium, sipped absinthe, or even discussed the latest novels.
It was, in short, one of Lord Silver's best-ever parties.
"It's not the duel I'm complaining about, it's the calligraphy challenge that started the quarrel," Kai muttered. He hadn't left Irene's side so far this evening, and she was grateful for it. This wasn't a party for them to enjoy: it was one where they needed to be seen. It was a political event and a lion's den. But even here, Kai had his sense of aesthetics. "The choice of ink colours available was completely unsuitable, she should have demanded a steel pen, and frankly the whole thing ought to have been called off until both parties could get better paper. No wonder they came to blows instead of competing as planned. It simply wasn't possible for either to produce work representative of their skills."
"Yes," Silver said, sweeping into place behind them. "I have to admit I'm embarrassed. At one of my parties, anything that a guest demands should be available there and then. I will simply have to lay in better supplies for the future."
"Well, it is the latest thing," Irene answered, trying to calm her heartbeat. She had never been comfortable with anyone mysteriously appearing behind her. And running for her life would be a challenge, in her highly expensive but restrictive silk dress. "I hear it's hit aficionados as badly as the Dutch tulip craze. Remember when everyone had to own the latest bloom? And is it true that there was an ink robbery at Harrods?"
"Your friend the detective would know better than I," Silver said. He was barely six inches behind Irene, and she was painfully conscious of his presence-his height, his warmth, the curve of his lips . . .
Fae were dangerous. Even when they were technically now allies.
She faced Silver, her dress rustling. "Lord Silver. When you invited us, we had expected a smaller occasion. Something more . . ." She considered the word intimate and rejected it hastily. "Discreet."
"You aren't enjoying it?" Silver said, amused. The light from the ether-lamps made a halo of his pale hair, but nobody would have classed him as anything other than the most fallen sort of angel. His shoulders and build-and overly tight trousers-were enough to make anyone think of sin. And the lingering curve of his lips, and glint of his eyes, suggested that he was far more interested in debauching mortals than saving them. He fitted perfectly into this alternate Victorian England as a libertine and man about town; like many powerful Fae, he was a personification of certain types of stories. But the ones that involved his sort of character definitely weren't meant for children. "But you're drinking my champagne . . ."
"It's very good champagne," Irene said, in an attempt to find something on which she could honestly compliment him. Also, there hadn't been anything non-alcoholic on offer. "But as I just said, discreet. There are at least a hundred people here."
The music from the string quartet in the corner speeded up, and a space cleared on the floor. Two guests, a man in stark white and a woman in black, began to tango. At least two possible duels and one assignation broke off, as guests turned to watch and applaud.
"My dear little mouse," Silver said, using the pet name that he knew most annoyed Irene. "You were aware I was going to show off you and your dragon prince to my kind tonight. It might not have been said, but there was certainly an understanding. And your princeling isn't objecting to any of this."
"I'm letting her do that for me," Kai said equably.
In the dramatic lights and shadows thrown by the trembling chandeliers, he had the perfect beauty of a classical statue. His hair was black, with just a touch of blue. His eyes were dark blue, with a hint of underlying fire. And his skin was as pale as marble, but comfortingly warm to the touch. Since his recent selection as dragon representative in the newly built dragon-Fae truce, he had thrown himself into politics. Or at least, he'd thrown himself into choosing the most appropriate clothing for political occasions. Irene had to admit the effort wasn't wasted.
"Agreeable as well as handsome. The perfect partner." Silver's smile made the implication of in the bedroom as well as out of it quite clear, and Irene felt Kai's arm tense under her hand. "Nevertheless, if you want my help in a certain matter, you'll stay at this party for at least another couple of hours."
Irene knew exactly what he meant. She had been named as Librarian representative for this same truce. She would be the mutual point of contact for both Fae and dragon queries and new signatories. And-it was unspoken, but clearly visible in her future-she'd be the person responsible for sorting out any problems. However, the Fae representative had yet to be chosen. And as Silver was on one faction's selection committee (or whatever mechanism they had for choosing a representative), she wanted his assistance.
She sipped her champagne. "I know we're both trying to help each other here . . . Our presence increases your prestige among your own kind. And in return, you could influence the selection of the Fae representative-choosing someone who won't make our lives a living hell." She smiled politely. "However, no one will benefit if Kai or I are killed in a duel on your home ground."
"That won't happen," Silver said categorically.
Irene raised an eyebrow.
"Anyone who challenges you will never be invited to one of my parties again," he clarified. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a tango to interrupt."
Irene watched him go. "It really is very good champagne," she said with a sigh.
"What did Vale say when you asked if he'd show up?" Kai enquired.
Irene couldn't help smiling. "That he found his current researches into ink-smuggling far more rewarding than another pointless party thrown by Lord Silver. He felt he'd already done his bit for the dragon-Fae peace treaty in Paris. And if he did attend, it would be to search the upstairs rooms for evidence of crimes, while everyone else was downstairs. Also, if he had shown up, Mu Dan would have shown up too, an uninvited dragon at a Fae party . . ."
"I don't know why she's spending so much time in this world," Kai muttered petulantly. "As a judge-investigator, surely she's got important business elsewhere. Anywhere elsewhere."
"It's because she wants to recruit Vale to work on some of her cases." Mu Dan had helped Vale and Irene catch a murderer during the signing of the peace treaty in Paris. And she'd been making veiled offers of employment to Vale ever since. "You can't blame her for wanting the best. But don't worry. He's not going to agree." They were both protective of their friend.
Kai nodded. "We should both try to relax," he suggested. "You're prickly because you thought this might be a polite social occasion among neutrals. I'm less concerned because I knew we'd be among enemies."
So much, Irene thought, for the truce. "I live in hope," she said. "We have to start somewhere. And any other generic platitudes that spring to mind."
Kai's eyes narrowed abruptly. "I know that face. What's she doing here?"
"Politics too, I imagine," Irene said. The woman approaching was Fae-and she was a secretary, minion, and cat's paw of one of the most powerful of their kind. "Sterrington, how interesting to see you here."
Sterrington smiled and raised her glass in salute. "How nice to see you both. Stolen any good books lately?" Her dark hair was smoothed back into a low knot at the base of her neck, and her grey watered-silk gown was appropriate to the late Victorian period of this alternate world. Gloves concealed the fact that her right hand was largely cybernetic.
"We've been living quietly lately," Irene answered. "It's been very pleasant. I've actually managed to catch up on my reading."
It had been a relief to have a few weeks in which she was out of danger and able to do mundane things such as move house, renegotiate her relationship with Kai-and even brush up on some of her foreign languages. Acquiring works of fiction for the Library from alternate worlds was her vocation, and her job, but it was rarely peaceful or easy.
"I see." Sterrington's enigmatic smile suggested disbelief, as if Irene had actually been arranging the downfall of monarchs or thefts from imperial fortresses. "How . . . surprising."
"And I'm surprised to see you here," Kai said. "I'd thought that your master wasn't on good terms with Lord Silver."
"If the Cardinal waited to be on good terms with people before dispatching emissaries, he'd never send anyone," Sterrington countered. "Why didn't you visit me in Liechtenstein? I sent an invitation . . ."
Liechtenstein was the major centre of Fae activity on this alternate world. But as such, it was one of the places Irene least wanted to visit. "I must apologise for that, but I would have been . . . uncomfortable. You know we Librarians can't tolerate too high-chaos an environment."
"You managed Venice well enough last year," Sterrington said.
"Yes," Kai said. The faint shadow of scale-patterns blossomed across his cheekbones and the back of his hands, like frost-ferns on a window, and a brief flare of draconic red glinted in his eyes. "Where I was kidnapped by the Guantes. I believe you were working for them?"
"Water under the bridge," Sterrington said lightly. "I thought that under the new peace treaty we were going to be much more understanding . . . about little things like that."
Irene passed her still half-full glass to Kai. "Please could you fetch me some more champagne?" she said quickly.
Kai inclined his head in a gesture not unlike a duellist's salute and stalked off on his errand.
"I seem to have made a strong impression," Sterrington commented. "I can't remember him being that easily offended last time we met."
Irene searched for a way to change the subject. But Sterrington beat her to it. "Would you care for some cocaine? Locally sourced."
"I didn't know you took cocaine."
"I don't, except on rare occasions, but Lord Silver thinks I do. I didn't like to disappoint him." She winced at a clashing noise that almost drowned out the tango. "What is that?"
"Russian sabre dancers." Irene had demanded a look at the bill of entertainments before agreeing to attend. "With tame Afghan hounds."
"No white stallions?"
"They were held up at Customs."
"I'm glad to hear you're not involved in anything more alarming than this sort of affair." Sterrington's elegant gesture took in the scene.
A little warning flag raised itself at the back of Irene's mind. "Is there something more alarming going on, apart from our mutual treaty?" she asked mildly.
"Only the usual," Sterrington said with a shrug. "Deaths, violence, bloodshed, assassinations, murders, thefts. You and I should have a get-together to discuss it all. Have your PA call mine-you do have one, don't you? I can recommend an excellent firm if not." Her tone didn't change, but her eyes searched the crowd as she went on. "By the way, Silver did screen the guest list, I hope?"
"He did," Irene said. She followed Sterrington's gaze as surreptitiously as she could. "But you were waved through, so clearly whoever's checking names at the door isn't as reliable as they might be. Is there a problem?"
"Possibly. Do you see that Fae, the man with the green cravat?"
The cravat in question was a particularly toxic shade of emerald, the sort associated with mambas and poisonous frogs. Otherwise, the man looked average enough-for Silver's parties-and he was within five yards of Kai. "You know him?"
"Know of him. Of course, I haven't met him personally-"
"Get to the point . . ." Irene almost rolled her eyes.
"His name's Rudolf," Sterrington said. "He lost his mother in some business involving a dragon takeover of her world. The Cardinal heard he was planning to publicly revenge himself against the new dragon delegate-and so I dropped by. I suppose desperate people will do desperate things."
Irene's glance swept the room. There was no sign of Silver. And the general press of guests was thick enough that it'd take her at least five minutes to get round the edge of the dance floor, now occupied by waltzers, to reach Kai. "I need your word that you're being truthful about this," she said.
"The Fae have as much to lose as you have," Sterrington said. "Why else would I have bothered to tell you about this? In fact, I think you might owe me a favour for warning you. Can you stop him?"
"Not from across the room." The Librarians' private Language could do a great many things. It could boil champagne, redirect electricity, freeze canals, and generally affect reality. But if it was being spoken, then it had to be audible.
"What are you going to do?"
Not what do we do, Irene noted with an inner sigh. "I'll stop him," she said, and approached the nearest male. "Excuse me, but would you care to dance?"
His eyes widened in surprise. "Ma'am," he began, "this is a most unexpected pleasure, and I can only-"
"Dance," Irene said and forcibly spun him onto the dance floor-in Kai's direction.
"I never dared hope for the honour of your acquaintance, ma'am," her partner began.
But Rudolph was even closer to Kai now-and she saw an opening through the crowd. "You must tell me more about it later."
"Why not now?"
"Because I'm-" She disengaged smoothly and spun round to the next pair. "Changing partners," she finished, hooking the woman out of her partner's arms and shifting her path closer towards Kai.
"Thank you," her new partner breathed, settling against Irene's shoulder. "I've always dreamed of being rescued like that. Did you see where he was putting his hands?"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was fantastic! I remember reading the first book in this series, The Invisible Library, right around its publication date and knew that this was going to be a very special series. I have looked forward to each installment and have yet to be disappointed. One of the things that I love about the series is that the possibilities are endless. This book was my favorite in the series to date. You would think that Irene and Kai would get a bit of a break after all of their work to secure a very important treaty but the fun never seems to stop for this pair. After a quick assassination attempt, they must face Irene's parents which proved to be an eye-opening situation. Before long, Irene is summoned to the Library and given the task to secure a very special book. Irene and Kai dealings with Mr. Nemo prove to be more difficult than expected and they find themselves being put on a team to pull off a very big heist. This was a very exciting book. The action started in the few pages and really never let up. Just getting to Mr. Nemo was an adventure but the fun really got started once they made it to his island. It was really interesting to see Irene and Kai work within a group. Irene has a take-charge attitude which doesn't always work with the group. The task that they have seems almost impossible and they have to do it with a group that they don't completely trust. I had no idea how they were going to make it work and I love that the story kept me guessing. The characters in this book were very well done. I have grown to love Irene and Kai over the course of this series and I liked them even a little more by the end of this book. I was a little sad that Detective Vale only made a quick appearance but there were so many new and interesting characters introduced in this book that I didn't miss him as much as I would have thought. The crew that Irene and Kai must work with were all really unique individuals. I wasn't sure who could really be trusted but there were a couple of individuals that really proved themselves in the end. I would highly recommend this book to others. This is the sixth book in The Invisible Library series which is a series that really should be read in order. I loved the excitement of this story and thought that the task was incredibly unique. Once I started reading this book I did not want to put it down. I cannot wait to read more of this wonderful series! I received a review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group.
This book was such an adventure. I did miss Vale in this one though. While he and Lord Silver were in this book, they had very reduced roles but it was still great to have them in this story. I also loved the dynamic between Irene and Kai and how different it was in this book. The museum heist aspect of this book made it an exciting, edge of my seat read and I can't wait to see where Kai and Irene will be off to next.
One of the best of the series! Irene is even more irrepressible, a lethal librarian spy. Kai has a bigger presence & clearly determined to protect Irene. As usual, a fascinating array of secondary magical characters with their own agendas. Very action packed, full of betrayal, complicated characters & plot. I loved it!
A Librarian's main job is to collect unique books from different worlds in order to stabilize those worlds between the forces of chaos and order. Irene may have accidentally found herself getting more involved with politics lately (The Mortal Word), but when she learns that the world where she went to boarding school is mysteriously tipping into chaos, she's determined to get the manuscript necessary to save it. The only problem is, the manuscript is currently in the hands of the secretive Fae Mr. Nemo, and in order to get her hands on it, Irene is going to have to do something for him: steal a specific painting from a specific world with the help of Kai, a Fae thief, a Fae gambler, a Fae driver, a Fae thug and a dragon techie. What could possibly go wrong? Genevieve Cogman says it herself: at some point, you knew there had to be a heist. Think James Bond meets The Italian Job, Ocean's Eleven, and any other heist movie you can think of, add scheming Fae and a dash of dragon politics and you have The Secret Chapter. Irene is her usual excellent self: trying to keep Kai and dragon Indigo from killing each other, trying to keep the unlikely mix of characters organized in order to steal the painting and putting their individual agendas on hold- all with the least violence necessary. She has a deadline to save a world and is determined to do it. What's interesting is that despite her doubts of her own morals or ethics, she does actually have them. Sometimes this is highly inconvenient, but I found it rather comforting. She's a more complex and relatable character because of her morals, and because she questions whether she has them. We get to see a more of Irene's parents in Chapter than we ever have before, and it definitely shows us where Irene gets her practical attitude! Vale and Lord Silver make almost no appearance, which on the one hand is disappointing because they are always fun, but on the other hand they wouldn't have worked in this book so it was good of Cogman to try not and fit too much in one book. There is still a relationship between Irene and Kai that I'm not convinced of, but Cogman kept the romance basically 'off-stage', which was great as far as I was concerned. The new Fae characters will seem like completely familiar examples of their tropes (which is the point) but Cogman intrigues readers with a few hints about Fae nature and what exactly a Fae is that I hope she'll explore in future books. And we learn a few dragon secrets that have the potential to be highly explosive in the future. The Secret Chapter drags a little sometimes as Cogman sets the scene, but overall this is one of her better in the series. Between intriguing secrets, expected betrayals, unexpected betrayals, dragon fights, and sharks, it has plenty to enjoy. For me, the best part of a Genevieve Cogman book is her writing style: full of dry humor, rapier sharp wit, beautiful descriptions, and delightfully detailed world(s) building. One of Cogman's greatest skills is her ability to create an image in only a few words and letting the reader'a imagination take it from there. A perfect example? Levitating corgis. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman is the latest in her wonderful Invisible Library series. Coming after the six previous novels, Irene and Kai have become well-loved characters. In this installment, the world where Irene grew up is in dangerous of slipping into chaos. In order to retrieve the book necessary to fix that world, Irene and Kai are forced to work with others to steal a painting in exchange for the book. I know I'm in for a fun adventure whenever I start reading one of these- this series just gets better and better!
Elaine and Kai have been named the Librarian and Dragon representatives retrospectively to the new Treaty formed between the Library, the Dragons and the Fae. They are awaiting the representative of the Fae to be selected. Meanwhile a situation arises in the world where Elaine went to boarding school. A specific copy of a book must be returned to this world to keep it from dissolving into chaos. A mysterious collector has the needed copy of the book and the Library sends Elaine to retrieve it.Kai comes along too. The collector requires a clandestine set of rules be followed and gathers a team to perpetrate a theft in another world with the promise Elaine will recieve the desired book upon completion of the theft. There is a fantastical series of events that follow as this odd bunch of "people" attempt to complete their assignment. Thrilling and twisty and thoroughly enjoyable to the end!!! Looking forward to the next adventures!!!!
4.5 'He who controls the present controls that past' Stars I’ve enjoyed the invisible library series so far. It is one of the smarter series I read and I’m always interested in what new shenanigans Irene and associates are going to get into. Irene is usually trying to steal one book or another from some world but now she needs to steal something much larger to get the book she needs and she has some new hinderances/helpers for the task. In the last book Irene became the Library’s representative one the tentative peace treaty was signed and Kia was placed in a similar position enabling their relationship to change. I was a little worried that the romantic aspect between them would take over a little since this is the first book they are officially together. I was worried for nothing, there is the romance between them, but it is so in the background really that it is almost not there. So, the tone of the story hasn’t changed much from prior books, which means if you are reading this solely for the romance…don’t. Irene and Kia both go to meet with Nemo, a criminal overlord type Fae who has a book Irene desperately needs. Irene and Kia both have very different reasons for going, they both have their own political agendas and those agendas don’t always line up. I respect that both Kia and Irene are still their own people with their own motivations and just because they are together that isn’t going to change. Each has secrets from the other and they respect that. While each might do whatever they can to protect the other, they aren’t blindly just letting the others agenda overshadow their own. ***”Should I worry about him?” Does he matter to you? Besides politically, that is?” Let’s just say, whether of not he’s in danger will affect my response to the situation.” *** A few of the things I loved. We finally meet Irene’s parents. They are a trip and it was a pretty funny exchange. ***Was it a surprise that a daughter of spies had developed trust issues? she thought wryly. *** While other story plot lines have really examined more of the Library and Fae this one had some bigger developments surrounding the dragons and their origin story. I enjoyed learning more about how the dragons think and their political machinations. Sadly, Vale didn’t have much to do with this story but the good news is that I was so caught up in the quirky new characters and the heist that I didn’t really miss him much. This was another very well written story with new information that will probably build into the next books. I enjoyed all my time with Irene and co. again and can’t wait to see how the revelations about the dragons in this will play into future books.
This book was received as an ARC from Berkley Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I am a huge fan of the Invisible Library series and I was thrilled to see the release of the secret chapter. I do believe that I am actually one of the few that think of Irene as a superhero. Being a librarian myself, I could appreciate the power and trust Irene had in all of her missions especially this one forming a band of misfits to collect a reward from the fae Mr. Nemo and having their biggest battle not to battle each other. This is a Fiction novel but what I love about this book the most is how realistic it is running a staff of people with multiple personalities and personas where if some or all clash, that is the biggest obstacle and that no matter what bonding together is way more powerful and successful than turning on eachother fighting for personal gain. We will consider adding this title to our Fantasy collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
Thanks to Berkley and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Not gonna lie, I adore this series. I love the dragons. I love the Fae. I love the Library. I love the Language. But do you know what I'm tired of? Heists. There's been this non-stop barrage of heists in the book world the last few years, and meh, starting to be over it. Luckily for us, this heist involves Irene Winters who, like Max from Chronicles of St. Mary's, runs headlong into trouble but has the wit and fortitude to kick its ass. Irene is such a great character, and I really love her interactions with the dragons and fae. I really like Kai as well, but I was hoping for more Lord Silver and Vale. I miss them! This one has a few twists and turns and quite a few betrayals, but most importantly, this one pushes the world building and lore past the huge changes from the last book to an even newer place, setting the stage for some serious ramifications. This series, even with a heist thrown in, continues to be fun. Can't wait for the next one.
When the library calls on Irene and Kai to find a book that will help save a world they take on the adventure despite their new roles as Ambassadors. In order to obtain their book they must join a ragtag group in a museum heist. Once that heist is completed the book will be theirs. Of course, not all is as it appears! The Secret Chapter was a rollicking good time. It had the great heist and humor of Ocean’s Eleven and the fantasy adventure a la Lord of the Rings. Although thank goodness, no Orc’s. Irene and Kai’s relationship has advanced into partner status, but Irene’s experiences bring her into the role of leader. I really enjoyed the cast of characters and how dragon culture and fae storylines are becoming even more intertwined as the series goes forward. The wonderfully named Mr. Nemo is the ultimate bad guy. His name brought to mind two sea themed movies, Finding Nemo and Capt. Nemo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, so not surprisingly his hideout is an island and his hitmen an ocean full of sharks. I like Irene and Kai’s more even status as newly appointed Ambassadors, but I do still get the feeling that Irene is the brains and Kai the beauty and brawn. This is the sixth book in the series so it will be really interesting to see if and how their relationship progresses. Will future books still be about their adventures or will they start to have more relationship meat. Truthfully, I wish for both. I want them to continue their adventures but I think if their relationship doesn’t move into deeper feelings that I may start to tire of book after book of adventures. We’ll see! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review and it was honest.