The Secret Chapter, by Genevieve Cogman is a delightfully fun read with absolutely wonderful descriptions and portrayals of Fae, Dragons, and Librarians. The perfect choice for a feel-good and exciting read!
Irene, a Librarian, has been tasked with securing a specific edition of a very specific book. There is just one catch. The book is held by a Mr Nemo, a mysterious Fae, who is hidden away on a private island. Being the only copy of this book, Irene has to go and see Mr Nemo and hope she can make a satisfactory deal.
Irene is joined by Kai, dragon royalty and her partner, who uses this opportunity to show off his diplomatic skills. However, during their trip, and upon their arrival, they realise that this job may be more complicated than they first thought. Irene and Kai find they are not the only ones who wish to deal with Mr Nemo, and Mr Nemo knows how to use this to his advantage. He has a very specific form of payment required from the group, in exchange they will all receive what they were inquiring about.
The only problem? Mr Nemo wants the group to band together and perform and impossibly difficult heist, secure a specific item and return it to him without damage.
As a result Kai and Irene find themselves working with a Dragon tech master, a Fae thief, a gambler, a driver and a fighter. But how far does this trust go? And will they succeed?
Disclaimer: This is the sixth book in the series and while it can be read as a standalone characters from earlier books will appear. (Personally I read this as a standalone as I wasn’t aware it was part of a series until it was too late!)However, I will be picking up the rest of the series as soon as possible! Due to this though there may be inadvertent spoilers – so I apologise in advance, it is unintentional if I do not mark one!
— Witty And Interesting —
The Writing Style and Narrative. Cogman’s writing style is incredibly witty and interesting, it immediately pulls you in and really connects you with the story right from the start. Genevieve Cogman manages to balance wit and sarcasm with the serious and thoughtful and it works wonderfully. The writing style also allows you to know a lot of information without feeling too info-heavy, and without information dumps, it is cleverly written and very organic.
The Secret Chapter is written from the perspective or Irene, and it is amazing. Using her perspective allows for you to have a lot of insight, particularly into the Library, the peace treaty, and Irene’s thought process. However, it means there is also an element of mystery and suspense. Irene is intelligent and knows when things are suspicious or wrong, so do we as a result, but she doesn’t know why or what the truth is. This allows a lot of theorising and mystery for us! The narrative is also extremely helpful for people who read this as a standalone as Irene is explanatory by nature as well as thoughtful so we learn a lot from her without meaning to. The narrative is extremely fun to read and allows you to connect with the book and characters very well.
— Fun And Exciting —
The Plot. This plot is fun and exciting and unique and all around enjoyable. A band of misfits coming together to pull off a heist or event is not inherently original BUT the story as a whole is incredibly unique in its execution and style. Not only is it unique in execution but also in terms of the way the Fae and Dragons are used, the portrayal of the treaty, the alternate timelines and, of course, the Library. I ADORED the way a Library is used at the core of the story, it is neither good nor bad, it is neutral but protective and is the key to stability. Moreover, I thoroughly enjoyed the complicated rivalry between the Fae and the Dragons and how each fit into archetypes or general traits. The contrast of chaos versus order added such an interesting dimension to the novel and story and aided the rivalry in a subtle but effective way.This rivalry made the story very intriguing as it had such unexpected effects on the way the heist played out and the group worked together. It allowed for humour, anger and hostility to grow and develop and made the read through much more entertaining. I don’t want to say too much on the plot as it is very easy to spoil! But, I also thought that it was paced very well, there was a great balance of action, magic, planning, discussion and character development.
— Complex And Clever —
The Word Building/Magic System. This book had some complex and clever world building and an extensive magic system! Firstly, let’s talk about the Library and the Librarians. First of all – LIBRARIANS are awesome in this story, readers are portrayed as being awesome, and I adored this more than words can say. The librarians are a neutral party, mostly human, who are there to maintain the equilibrium, the Library is the signatory of the peace treaty and they are aiming to create a balance. But they are morally grey, they steal (for the greater good but are professionals at theft) from others. They have the ability to use a power called the Language, they can change/change how you perceive reality – and it is amazing! But, magic has a cost, it has a physical toll on the body, particularly if you try to use it on too many people at once. This adds some realism ad restraint to the magic which adds to the story.
The next set of magic is that of the dragons. Powerful royal dragons can control an element, only a specific one, and can take on their dragon forms at whim. They are powerful, prefer order and have an in depth system of rules and loyalty- they also dislike the fae. However, their magic is also restricted, to use their element they must have access to it, i.e a lake if it is water, and they cannot take on their dragon forms in ares of ‘high-chaos’ (usually areas with high fae activity). This was incredibly interesting and unique as dragons are seldom used to such an extent or with an in depth and complex look in regards to other supernatural or mythological creatures.
The Fae. I simply adored the portrayals of the fae. They are highly chaotic, flirty, and can be extremely vicious – EXACTLY how fae are meant to be. But, Cogman goes even further and creates a system of archetypes, specific personas that individual fae try to achieve, such as being a manipulator or gambler etc… Each specialise in these areas and have skills pertaining to them. However, their archetypes all have weakness that can be exploited.
Each set of magic is incredibly different but works so well together in the novel, they each have their own limits, weaknesses and strengths allowing individuality and incredibly unique uses of the magic.
The world itself is intriguing, areas are categorised as relying on either magic or technology, order or chaos, and have their advantages and disadvantages to each race, being fae or dragon, even the librarians. The world is an incredibly complex one consisting of alternate timelines. However, despite the jumps in time period, and timelines, it is never confusing and works magnificently- I loved this world, especially the library, and will definitely be on the lookout for the prior books so I can learn more about it.
— Realistic And In-Depth —
The Characters. Every character is well crafted, complex and interesting, they are realistic and in-depth and so are incredibly easy to connect with. Normally, I would split all my opinions on the characters but to avoid too many inadvertent spoilers I will keep it a little briefer than usual!
Irene. She is a Librarian and she is amazing! She is smart, headstrong, independent, determined, and absolutely dedicated to the library and what it represents. She is loyal and honourable, but also incredibly witty and sarcastic, which adds so much amazing humour to the story! Throughout the story she is observant but is unable to piece everything together and this is wonderful for the reader as it shows her intelligence but also allows us to theorise too! Her relationship with Kai is realistic and breaks away from stereotypical cliches. They are loyal to each other, but Irene puts the library fist, the world first, and Kai understands this. Their relationship is balanced, kind, and full of understanding – it is just a perfect adult relationship and is not over the top nor does it take over the story- it just is and it works!
Kai. He is a dragon, he is loyal to the dragons, his family and Irene. But, the Dragons secrecy comes first. He is clever, diplomatic and sweet, but quick to aggression. He is a great character to read about and adds a lot of wit and interest to the story! Being a dragon he often gets into disagreements with the fae and they are simply wonderful to read about and incredibly funny at times.
Not only are the characters and the relationships realistic but there is diversity among them. It is added naturally and adds realism to the story! I loved the characters and cannot wait to see more of them! The group that band together with Kai and Irene are so unique and have such individual personalities tat you cannot put the book down because they are so interesting! The dynamics of the group are fun, witty and suspicious and were absorbing to read about. An honorary mention to Silver – creepy as he may be his characters is incredibly funny, flirty, witty, comical, sarcastic and everything I want from a fae!
— A Feel-Good And Exciting Adventure —
Overall. This historical fantasy is a feel-good and exciting adventure. It is full of magic, comedy, action, sarcasm and wit with a dash of violence and a sprinkle of amazing. The characters are complex and easy to connect with, the plot is fun, unique and well paced, and the magic is cleverly weaved throughout.
Overall, I would recommend this to fantasy and magic lovers. It is a great read, perfect for if you want something fun and light but also complex and action packed!
This series is a must read- with magic, fae, dragons and magical librarians what more could you want?
*I received a free e-ARC of #TheSecretChapter, by Genevieve Cogman from #Netgalley and #PanMacmillan @Panmacmillan in exchange for an honest review *