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Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine – Book Review 

Isn’t it great to have lots of booky friends who know what type of books you’ll love? Thanks to Stacey for spotting this and to Ailsa from Allison and Busby for the copy. All opinions are as ever mine. 

Ink and Bone is Book one in The Great Library trilogy followed by Paper and Fire and Ash and Quill (I’ll definitely be checking the others out). 
First up I have to fawn over the stunning cover. Butterfly, Books and Quills…Oh My!! Check out my Instagram picture below. 

Synopsis 

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. POWER CORRUPTS. 

In a world where the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, knowledge now rules the world: freely available, but strictly controlled. Owning private books is a crime. 

Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market book smuggler, sent to the Library to compete for a position as a scholar… but even as he forms friendships and finds his true gifts, he begins to unearth the dark secrets of the greatest, most revered institution in the world. 

Those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life – and soon both heretics and books will burn…

What I thought

I’ve not read any books by Rachel Caine before, even though I own a number of her Morganville Vampire series. Yup, I own lots of private books – I would be in serious trouble in this universe! I was very impressed with her writing and worldbuilding. 

Jess Brightwell’s father tells him “You have ink in your blood, boy, and no help for it. Books will never be just a business for you.” And so begins his journey away from the family book smuggling to the Library and curating knowledge. Training to be a Librarian is not as safe as it sounds and Jess has a gift that may make it even more dangerous for him. He makes for a very likeable character and joins a fun group during his training. 

Every now and then the chapters from Jess’ point of view are broken up by what are called Ephemera. Mainly letters by Scholars from the Great Library. These hint that not everything at the Library is what it seems. That Jess needs to be careful about where he places his allegiance. 

This book reminded me a little of Nevernight (with slightly less murder) by Jay Kristoff – that I also loved – and there’s definitely the unusual boarding school vibe about it. 

I too was freaked out about the Ink Lickers!!! People in this universe who eat books so that the knowledge they contain can never be shared 😱. Considered worse than Book Burners who are more like revolutionaries wanting to bring about change. 

This is a dystopian fantasy sci-fi with steampunk automata, super speed travel, magic and lots of corruption. I highly recommend if you like any of those things. 

Shards and Ashes (Various Authors) – Book Review

 

Overall rating 4/5 stars

A mixed collection of dystopian stories that started and ended really well. A couple were too confusing or didn’t give me a real sense of motivation or purpose but others were beautifully nuanced, scary or intriguing. One or two I’d love to see developed into longer pieces, a number would be great as episodes of a Shards and Ashes TV series.
I commented on each story as I finished it but here are my mini reviews.

Hearken by Veronica Roth’s – 5/5 stars

This was a beautiful tale of Darya who learns she has the potential to be a Hearkener, someone who can hear people’s life or death songs. This has potential to be a much longer story but shares a message in itself for us to listen to each other. To look beyond the surface. Highly recommended

Branded by Kelley Armstrong – 3.5/5 stars

I liked the voice of the protagonist Rayne and the story/world building of the fortress community. The second part of the story almost felt rushed and I just didn’t completely feel that it was satisfactorily explained. The conclusion would have been good had I felt able to understand motivation a little clearer.

A Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl 4/5 stars

This was a clever tale that kept me guessing about this world of necklaces and drops. I loved the title. I struggled to care immediately for the first character we met but cared about his sister. The idea of living without living was one people can connect with.
I wanted a slightly clearer explanation of the world though. It was there but I still didn’t quite grasp it.
The repetition at the end was both frustrating and poetic. It didn’t quite end in the right place and the final point of view distanced me. I wanted a little bit more from Jai’s perspective.

Dogsbody by Rachel Caine – 5/5 stars

Excellent story, great pace, a protagonist you are rooting for from the off. Revenge planned meticulously over years. Of course nothing ever goes to plan.

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder – 1.5/5 stars

Unfortunately I just didn’t connect with this one. The beginning was interesting, a character called Dana being very excited about finding some batteries. Had the story stuck to a dystopia and explored this more I think I would have preferred it. Instead it went into fantasy right that the end with a lot of telling not showing. I was left very confused.
Realised I have read Nancy before, she wrote some of the Buffy TV tie-ins.

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr – 3/5 stars

I’d have liked a little more meat on the bones of this one (pun intended). Liked the two main characters. Interesting story of a god/monster coming to earth and humans ending up as corpse stew. Harm and Chris are fighting back. Wasn’t that keen on the ending. As a longer piece I think this could be much better.

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia – 5/5 stars

Phoenix and her sister Sky live in Burn 3, that used to be New York before the holes in the ozone sent the sun out of control. Children are vanishing and, when Sky is taken, Phoenix heads into the Abyss and finds an unlikely ally in a one eyed crazy man who thinks the Skinners have Sky. This was an excellent short, just the right amount of world-building and tension.

Love is a Choice by Beth Revis – 5/5 stars

Set on a spaceship, a young man hides from Eldest, the ruler who drugs everyone on board to prevent a mutiny. With help from Mag, a girl who had taken her grandfather’s place as the Recorder (librarian of sorts) they plot how to overthrow Eldest. I believe this is set in an existing world and you could tell, although this story did stand alone. The ending wasn’t what I was expecting but certainly explained the title. Going to hunt out this author’s work now.

Miasma by Carrie Ryan – 5/5 stars

Love the word Miasma and I also loved this story. Almost a mythical Fairytale nightmare rather than dystopian. Beaked doctors and ferret like plague eaters with forked tongues. Reminded me a little of the Buffy episode Hush. A girl struggles to keep her sister’s illness hidden by stealing Rose petals from the gardens of the rich.

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