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?
I was so excited when I got approved for the ARC of this book, especially because I was rejected same time last year for The Lost Plot and it felt like an affirmation that I’m now a capable blogger 😉😉😉 And I’m so glad to have read this book because it has all the wonderful elements that I have loved in the series with an extra dose of politics that I really enjoyed.
Irene is such a strong female character that I’m surprised she is not talked about more in the book community. She fights with the tools she knows best – words, language, knowledge, manipulation and the resilience to seem unaffected even during the most desperate of situations. In this installment, she is called on to use her quick wit even more because she has to deal with the intricacies of politics between the Dragons and the Fae and even a small misstep can have grave consequences for the fate of humankind. She juggles being deferential towards the dragon royalty, trying not to get caught up in the stories of the fae, dealing with the possibility of betrayal from Librarians – all while trying to be an impartial investigator and find the true culprit (even when no seems to want her to do that). She has to fight off the Blood Countess, possessed cats, poisonous apples, gas filled cakes and so much more to ensure that the peace treaty is signed and the Library remains neutral.
I was doubly excited in this book because Vale travels alongwith Irene to investigate the murder and I really wanted to see him again in his element but in an environment he doesn’t know well. We get to see glimpses of his genius, his ability to conduct his investigation with conviction and never swaying in front of the dragons or fae. He also comes to the right conclusions as Irene even if by different methods. However, what disappointed me was the it’s still Irene who takes the lead and after a point, Vale becomes a sidekick who shows up on page when the story needs it. I would have loved to see more of them working together.
The plot is even more action packed in this book because there are always assassination attempts or kidnappings happening and Irene has to think on her feet and get out of all these tricky situations. Her immense talents are on full display and it was truly a delight to read. We also get to know so much more about the court politics of the dragons and how much the dragons and fae can’t stand each other. Every page in the story felt so significant because I was very invested in the outcome of the peace conference and was wondering how Irene’s findings would impact it. The end battle was very intense and on a scale not seen in this series before. The ending really expands the scope of this universe and I can’t wait to see what Irene and Kai will do in their new roles.
If you love books and mysteries and adventures featuring a strong female character, I recommend you leave everything else aside and pick up this series. Every book in the series expands the scope of this universe and it has been a wonderful journey. And I’m very happy to know that there might be a couple more upcoming in this series.
PS: Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.