There are several categories of books, serious books that you are supposed to read, dreary books that are so dire that they are never finished, great books which live with you and change your life, page turning books which leave you wanting for more, not always great literature, but very enjoyable.
The Invisible Library falls into the latter category. Who can resist a book where science fiction meets fantasy, where there are dragons and vampires, magic and science, and a Victorian world exists in an alternative universe. This is an extremely enjoyable read, so much so that I have acquired the next book in the series, The Masked City.
Initially I bought this as an audio book because Audible ad a two for one offer. But I eventually succumbed to buying a Kindle version as well. As an audio book it was difficult to listen too, especially when driving. It starts off as two separate stories, completely unconnected, and then a third story is added later in the book. So now we have the story of Marcus, a man with no memory investigating the disappearance of Lara an architecture student, the story of Sandra, who is trying to find out why her husband died 6 months previously and the story of the hunter, a man with no name on the trail of "The Transformist", a mysterious serial killer. Some reviewers have likened the work to that of Dan Browne, but this does it a great injustice. OK, so there is a secret society, the Penitenzeri. Very Dan Browne. A society dedicated to documenting evil, and whose members are Roman Catholic priests. But this is a dying society, phased out by the modern Church. All that remains are a few individuals. Not very Dan Browne, for Mr Browne wants the Church to remain as a mythical superpower of evil.
"There is place in which the world of light meets the world of darkness. It is there that everything happens: in the land of shadows where everything is vague, confused, undefined.." The litany of the Penitenzeri. And some move from the world of light to the world of darkness. And therein lies the evil and the danger of the Penitenzeri.
The ending is unexpected. Lara is recued. Sandra discovers why her husband died. The hunter finds his quarry. But there is one loose end. The fate of Marcus.
I think I would recommend this as a book-read first before listening to it. And try not to drive when listening.
Perhaps another title could be "A History of the 20th century", for the central character, Allan Karlsson, seems to have been in on some of the pivotal moments of the 20th century and indeed, met the key players of the 20th Century (at least, through Swedish eyes).
The story is well told and does end happily ever after. It is funny, often unbelievable as a group of the most unlikely characters gather around Allan on his adventures. The story tells the life of Allan born in 1905 as well as the story of what happens after Allan climbs out of the window.