The Mortal World (Invisible Library Series 5)- Genevieve Cogman
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
Synopsis: When Irene returns to London after a relatively straightforward book theft in Germany, Bradamant informs her that there is a top secret dragon-Fae peace conference in progress that the Library is mediating, and that the second-in-command dragon has been stabbed to death. Tasked with solving the case, Vale and Irene immediately go to 1890s Paris to start their investigation.
Once they arrive, they find evidence suggesting that the murder victim might have uncovered proof of treachery by one or more Librarians. But to ensure the peace of the conference, some Librarians are being held as hostages in the dragon and Fae courts. To save the captives, including her parents, Irene must get to the bottom of this murder--but was it a dragon, a Fae, or even a Librarian who committed the crime?
In The Mortal World Irene must once again step out of her role as a simple book thief and prevent war between the Fae and the dragons. The Library is attempting to get both sides to sign a peace treaty and one of the dragon envoys gets murdered. Irene and Vale are brought in to solve the murder- as long as they come up with the "right" answer. The simplest villain (and the one everyone wants to be guilty) is the notorious Blood Countess- a powerful Fae who has taken on the story of Elizabeth Bathory. But Irene wants to get more than the convenient answer, she wants the truth. Even if the truth leads her to question the loyalty of some of her fellow Librarians.
Irene has become much more than "just" a book stealing librarian since we've met her. She's tangled with both dragons and Fae and come out alive, she's fought the worst politics has thrown at her and come out sane. Readers to the series know what it seems none of Irene's superiors at the Library know: she might do anything to protect the Library and her friends, but she is also increasingly willing to question authority when she sees something wrong. In Mortal World she's backed up by Vale, one world's equivalent of Sherlock Holmes, who cuts through politics and authority to reach the truth and sorts out what to tell people later. It's not an approach the dragon king Ao Ji or the Fae treaty leader the Cardinal really like, which leads to plenty of subtle (and not so subtle) threats against Irene's family, friends, and personal and mental well being. But Irene is quick thinking, willing to walk into a trap to get information, and always thinking outside the box. I love these characteristics about her (along with her professionally awesome levels of sarcasm and snark in the face of extreme situations of all kinds).
Mortal World gives us more of Vale than we've seen in many of the other books, which I enjoyed. He's not a Sherlock-clone, but is becoming more his own person and I hope we get to see him develop more in future books. He and Irene work well together and I think brought out a level of humanity in each other that did a good job balancing against the powerful beings they were investigating, as well as reminding each other that ultimately it is the mortal worlds who would suffer in the peace treaty fails.
I was disappointed that Cogman followed up on one idea she left dangling in The Lost Plot. That of Irene and Kai becoming lovers. The idea didn't work for me then, and didn't work for me here. The two worked well as mentor-student, and now that Kai isn't part of the Library the idea of them becoming more equal as partners (along with Vale) worked for me. But (in my personal opinion) there is absolutely no chemistry between the two and no good reason to force something that isn't there. Irene doesn't need a romantic interest, she needs someone she knows she can trust when she finds herself questioning everyone else around her.
Overall a well-written and fast-paced book, possibly second to The Invisible Library as my favorite in the series. The enemies are sneaky, the mystery is twisty, and while the cats can't top Library's alligators, they get points for creepiness. By the end Cogman has opened interesting possibilities for future books and characters. Hopefully in the future we will continue to see more of Vale, drop the Irene/Kai 'ship, and continue to enjoy the overall awesomeness that is the Invisible Library. While you don't need to have read the rest of this series to enjoy World, there are enough recurring characters that I think you'd enjoy it more if you read at least The Lost Plot beforehand.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review