I read this while on holiday in Venice, and ended up reading the sections based in St. Mark’s Square while sitting in the square, just after having gone up the Campanile tower! So that certainly helped to visualise the setting and atmosphere of the novel. It’s a great escapist read and, as in the first book, The Invisible Library, I love the underlying idea of a library of spies and the importance of stories and archetypes (though the explanation of that on the train was a little convoluted!) There isn’t as much background to the Library in this novel, so it’s definitely worth reading the first one first. On the whole I think I preferred the first instalment as it focused more on the Library and the central conflict was based on finding a rare book, a more “traditional” assignment for a Librarian. But I did feel that this book was more streamlined; the first one had too much thrown in, from vampires to werewolves to zeppelins to Fae to dragons etc. whereas this one focused mainly just on the Fae with some dragons and werewolves. I was a little surprised that the major villain Alberich didn’t appear in this novel, though he was hinted at; maybe he’ll be back for the third book!