I’ve been enjoying this series, so when The Housemate told me that it had come from the library, I was thrilled. Alas, though this installment is good, I found that it lacked the excitement of the first three, though I’m still not quite sure why.
The story involves a rare book, of course, and several factions who want to find it. When the neutrality of The Library seems about to be compromised, Irene and Kai are sent to investigate and, if possible, fix the problem. What they find are warring dragons, possible fae intervention, a gangster who involves himself in the mess, and a librarian who is being extorted.
The characters seem tired to me, as if their hearts really aren’t in the job, or possibly as if the author didn’t entirely have her heart in her story. And while I applaud the inclusion of a non-white character, it felt as if there was no real meaning to the inclusion. The character is ineffectual, and seems to exist just so that occasionally someone will trot out a prejudice so the reader will think, oh that’s awful! And as I considered this, I realized that in spite of the Chinese names of the dragons, I never felt that I was reading Asian characters.
The other thing that bothered me was that the concept of the Language began to show cracks. I had liked the conceit at the start of the series, but by this fourth volume I began to wonder why it was used in some circumstances but not in others, for example, when Kai and Everiste are searching for the rare book, why does Everiste, a full librarian who can use the Language, not use it to tell the book to show itself? If they think that it’s in the same room they are, it would save a lot of time and searching, wouldn’t it?
I doubt I’d be picking things apart quite this much if I hadn’t felt that this was the weakest entry in the series. The ending, though it was reasonably satisfying, felt a little glossed over to me as well, and so overall I am not sure how I feel about the idea of more books in the series. I will certainly pick up the next one, if there is one, but perhaps not with the same feeling of excitement. And that’s a shame.