Title: The Mortal Word
Author: Genevieve Cogman
Publisher’s Blurb: When a dragon is murdered at a peace conference, time-travelling Librarian spy Irene must solve the case to keep the balance between order, chaos…and the Library.
In The Mortal Word’s 1890s Paris the Grand Guignol is in full swing. Terror in its most “natural” state, precursor to B movies promising to be so frightening a doctor and nurse would be on standby for viewers who succumbed to their terror.
When several murders and other atrocities occur accusations fly. Terrifying things happen that might disrupt the Paris Peace Treaty between fae and dragon, mediated by humans, who better to blame than the Blood Countess?
Elizabeth Báthory, historically known for torturing her victims and bathing in the blood of virgins, is high chaos. With her in the story, the poisoning, the chlorine gas bomb, the mysterious clues to L’Enfer all too easily deflect attention away from the real murderer, and the political reasoning behind it.
Of course, the Blood Countess did all those things, and more. She terrifies others because it is in her nature. Disrupting the peace conference is fun and games for her, not politics. Yet, she has stirred the pot. And in stirring the pot, becomes the favored target of the political gamesmanship of fae and dragon.
Eventually, the evidence leads to the Grand Guignol theatre, and a basement chamber suitable for use by someone who tortures and kidnaps for fun. Staged terror and real terror in the same building, nothing could be more perfect. Here, the reader is led to believe, is the denouement of the story. Now, we will learn why and how the Blood Countess terrified both fae and dragon over a peace conference.
I got so carried along, i almost missed the siren call of the red herring. As despicable and terrifying as the Blood Countess is, other evidence points other ways. When calmer minds prevail and re-organize the evidence, the real killer comes to light.
To mystery readers, this may sound like standard fare. Let me assure you there’s nothing standard about Cogman’s characters. In her hands, and through Irene’s eyes, we are shown just how tricky it is to think clearly when a fae is trying to hold her in thrall. Dragons are tricky in their own way, with their rigid hierarchy and societal rules. And within this world, a character like the Blood Countess can thrive and both be guilty and not at the same time.
The Invisible Library series is inter-dimensional library, Librarians stealing books to keep chaos and order in balance, dragons, fae, alternate timelines, and so much more. It’s a pleasurable read, even when the villains are as terrifying as the Blood Countess.