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The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman

BOTTOM LINE: If you have not started this series yet, for what are you waiting?

Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: 9 January 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“After being commissioned to find a rare book, Librarian Irene and her assistant, Kai, head to Prohibition-era New York and are thrust into the middle of a political fight with dragons, mobsters, and Fae.

In a 1920s-esque New York, Prohibition is in force; fedoras, flapper dresses, and tommy guns are in fashion: and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon political contest. It seems a young Librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can’t extricate him, there could be serious repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war.

Irene and Kai are locked in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They’ll face gangsters, blackmail, and the Library’s own Internal Affairs department. And if it doesn’t end well, it could have dire consequences on Irene’s job. And, incidentally, on her life…”

My Thoughts: It would be easy to dismiss The Lost Plot and the entire series as fluffy fantasy involving a weird Library, dragons, Fae, and dimensional time travel, and in some regards this assessment is true. It is rather fluffy in that the stories are not literary in nature but purely entertaining. You are not going to learn much about history, life, or yourself while reading them. To dismiss The Invisible Library series, however, is to ignore all that is right with storytelling for Genevieve Cogman tells one hell of a story.

Like all good series, each story builds on the other. In this fourth novel in the series, we know more than we did about the Library. We understand Fae and dragon lands. We know about dragon politics. We understand Irene’s mission and her relationship with Kai. What The Lost Plot does is provide us with just a bit more knowledge about each of these areas to further solidify our understanding. Dragon politics is at the heart of this particular novel, and for the first time we see how Irene’s relationship with Kai and their relationship to the Library could be in jeopardy thanks to his family. In the previous novels, this was something hinted at more than explored, but now we get to see firsthand the high-wire act Irene has been performing to keep both Kai and the Library safe. Her willingness to do so speaks volumes about her feelings for her apprentice, and we finally see some movement in that area as well. In addition, the time spent in various dragons’ company affords us a greater understanding of their strict rules and hierarchy. Plus, there are mobsters, holier-than-though cops, and dragons flying around fighting each other. What more could you want?

After the heavy action in The Burning Page, The Lost Plot does feel rather slow and less informative than previous books. Yet, I suspect this was done for a purpose. There has always been more to the story than just Irene and Kai traveling to different lands to collect rare books for the Library. Book three brought us closer to understanding that overarching mystery, so book four is a time to pause and establish greater understanding of our heros and the political minefields that exist in their line of work. It is not a filler episode so much as it is a breather episode, there to remind us of simpler times when we first met Irene and Kai and to confirm all that we now know. All long-running series have such lulls in action, if you will, where the main story gets set aside for a bit while we reintroduce the characters, discover how much they have changed since we first met them, and get the chance to process everything that has previously happened. For any series to be successful, having this relative lull in the action is essential and welcome.

This is not to say that Irene becomes dull and safe in her efforts to fulfill her mission. It is rather the opposite in fact. If there is any impending danger, she will find it. If she can find a way to wreck havoc, she takes it. This is the Irene we know and love, the one who will do whatever it takes to keep her friends safe and complete her mission, the one who is afraid to jump but will do it anyway because she knows it is the only way. There is plenty of action and destruction to whet any Irene Winters fan.

After three books in the series, there is not much more to say except to remind people just how much fun it is. Irene is hilarious in her practical, no-nonsense way with her affinity for a warm fire, a snifter of brandy, and a pile of books at war with her propensity for danger and mayhem. Kai has a chance to shine on his own this time too, as we see him forced to make decisions without Irene’s guidance and apply his understanding of the politics at play to his decision-making. The Prohibition-era like version of New York City is amusing and adds an extra layer of intrigue to the whole story. The Lost Plot is immensely satisfying and thoroughly entertaining, as is the whole series. The only bad part is now having to wait yet again for the next book.

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