Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Publish Date July 11, 2017
Price: $17.99 Hardcover, Kindle $10.99

I’ve been a follower of The Great Library series since the first book, Ink and Bone came out in 2016; this latest installment sent my emotions, yet again, on a thrill ride of ups and downs, my heart breaking for characters and leaping with joy for them too.

Let me start with what I feel is the premise for this book, “You, of all people, understand the power of a symbol.” This one simple line not only sums up the basics of what the reader will be experiencing, but also sets the tone–dark, devious, and misleading. Take a look at the cover, its red and ash grey, stone is melting from the heat, the foundations of the building is cracked and crumbling; there’s no lightness about this cover because in this edition the characters are hard-pressed to find hope in their current situation.

The story starts out where we were last dropped, literally, in the prior book, Paper and Fire, inky blackness, flesh feeling like it’s being ripped apart, and confusion. From this point on, don’t expect a break as Caine will keep the reader from food, water, relaxation and rest, just like her characters. She’s keeps a fast pace, luring readers for ‘just one more chapter’ which will see your favorite character be either hurt, betrayed, beaten or blown-up. It’s not to say there’s not any hopeful moments, it’s just that the circumstances are so bad that if you, or the characters, miss seeing that one, faint, firefly moment of light in the dark, which comes so rarely, you’ll miss it, so don’t blink.

I started wondering while reading this book if I would have had the courage this cast of characters have: the necessity to continue to keep fighting for what’s right; the strength to overcome seemingly impossible odds; to trust where in other circumstances I wouldn’t. My parents lived through WWII, Vietnam, and many other wars. They were raised during WWI and the midst of the depression. It was their backbone that brings me the inner courage to keep going on days that I may instead say “I’ll just pass on today and see what tomorrow brings.” This latest edition brings to mind that what we [society today] think are impossible odds is in reality, just an illusion, a falsehood, brought on by media, the internet and society.  I’d like to quote more more line: “The Archivist is right, you know. We are dangerous.” “We’d damn well better be,” Jess said. “Or we’re all dead.””

Reading the last paragraph– the last line– I felt elated and betrayed simultaneously by Rachael Caine; betrayed as once again I was left with my nails clinging to the page like a free climber without a net; elated that YES! [fist bump into the air], the story is not over (I had thought this was a 3 book deal.)




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