Review: Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Review: Ash and Quill by Rachel CaineAsh and Quill by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #3
Also by this author: Ink and Bone
Published by Berkley on July 11th 2017
Pages: 368
Also in this series: Ink and Bone

Thanks to Berkley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


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Words can kill.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny…

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library…

When I read the first book in this series, I had no expectations, just thought it sounded like a great concept and so picked it up. It pretty much blew me away. I loved the entire concept of the the Library being evil, controlling (and often destroying) knowledge. It set a ridiculously high bar for the series, but even though next in the series (Paper and Fire) did not have quite that same level of magical reading experience, there was still plenty of room to be really good. I’m not exactly sure what happened with this book, but I feel like I lost all of the things that made me love the series. Yes, the Library is still evil, but at this point, I need more. I really wish this had been a trilogy and contained some closure at this point. I feel like if more had happened, perhaps I would have more excited by this book. But it is another middle book where I wish the story made more progress.

Jess and his crew escaped at the end of the previous book, and now find themselves in Philadelphia, land of the Burners. Jess was raised in a family of book smugglers, and learned a great appreciation for printed book if possessing them was illegal. Now, he and his knowledge appreciating friends from The Library are trapped with people who would rather burn books than turn them over to the Library. It provides some interesting conflict. Also of interest is their development of a printing press, and the possibilities that presents. There is also exploration that gives deeper understanding of some of the relationships in the book, notably Wolf and Santi, Jess and his brother. Dario also gets a bit more depth or complexity.

I think with this book, the telling rather than showing really slowed my excitement. Pair that with recapping the same information over and over, and I just had trouble maintaining any level of excitement. So while I loved the first book, now in the third book of the series, I still feel like Jess is the only character I have any connection to. And even worse, I feel like that connection faltered in this book. That’s not a good thing! That means my strongest connection with this series is wavering, and losing ground. Quickly. I am on the fence if I will continue with the next book in this series, honestly, I will wait for some other reviews to come in before I decide for sure, particularly reviews from other readers that have experienced more issues in the last two books. That said, I know there are some readers that will still love this one, especially readers that had no problems with Paper and Fire.

For those interested, there is a cliffhanger with this book, which shouldnt be a surprise, the last one did that as well. But I find myself caring less, and honestly, I’m not entirely sure if I will give the next book a chance.

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17 thoughts on “Review: Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine”

  1. I got scared off after reading reviews for Paper and Fire, and I just never got back to it. I think that’s going to be one of my resolutions this year, to not feel like I have to continue series I’m not enjoying (like the book I’m reading now, for example).

  2. I liked the first book but haven’t had time to continue the series. Too bad this one let you down. Sometimes I avoid books just because they are part of a series. What happened to stand alones? I can only follow so many series. LOL

  3. Hm… this is a series I promised myself I’d get on board with this year, but perhaps I’ll hold off. There are plenty of other amazing ones that I could get on board with. Many thanks for a thorough, honest review:)

  4. Yours is not the first comment I read about this third book seeming to lose the drive that had carried the story so far – a loss of drive that has its roots in book 2 that, like you, I enjoyed far less than the series’ opener. One wonders if the decision to turn this series from a 3-book cycle into a 5-book one is the reason for the general disappointment about the continuation of the story…

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  5. I still haven’t started this series and at the moment I’m a bit on the fence about doing so as it seems to be dipping as the series progresses and frankly I have so many unfinished series already that I’m not sure I can really allow myself to start another without at least finishing one or two of the others.
    Lynn 😀

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