Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine: Review

I read this book, if I’m honest, because I read PaperFury’s review/ expo on it and was completely sold on it. The girl was DAMN excited about this series, and rightfully so! This book was everything I wanted and more and please can I have the next one now? Please?


Title: Ink and Bone

Author: Rachel Caine

Publication date: July 7th 2015

Pages: 352

Blurb: 

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…


Forged friendships, books, rivalries, deception, conspiracy, war and magic – seriously, what more do you want? This book is a pleasure to read and a real page turner – I’m anxious to get my hands on the sequel!

It’s set (predominantly at least) in Egypt and the concept essentially is that the Great Library of Alexandria was never burned down + magic. But it’s not a completely dominating kind of magic that renders it cliché or camp or even mimics any of the Harry Potter world. It’s made of that kind of brutal and believable magic that only the setting of Egypt can provide. I loved the balance between the honesty of life and death and magic.

So, basically, a group of really smart kids are shipped off to Alexandria to compete to work for the esteemed library. They come from everywhere, they meet on a train and it’s a beautifully Harry Potter-esque “you’ve got dirt on your nose” kind of scene. The arrival is very different. They are put through their paces, kicked out at random and challenged to exhausting and difficult tasks on a daily basis. (I wish this part had been longer actually, it was awesome!)

ANOTHER GREAT THING is that the characters have *real* and distinguishable characteristics; even minor character have tangible arcs of development. Khalila was a particular favourite of mine: diverse, opinionated, strong, intelligent, AWESOME. Morgan was a bit one-dimensional but I think that could change in later books? Thomas was just a big ol’ german softie and I love him for his naivety – especially when he’s stood next to ‘I know everything and I’m a London cynic’ Jess!

Plus, i mean, if I hadn’t sold it to you already you should know that it’s all about books. Which is a really clever thing to write about if you think about it. I mean if your target audience is ‘people who read’, ‘books’ is a pretty safe and universal selling point.

I did find one misspelling of the protagonist’s name in my copy, and there were a few plot details that irritated me. However, that stuff was all minor so let’s ignore it. Definitely would recommend it to Harry Potter fans.

The following paragraph is lightly spoiler-ific. Please be aware, the next paragraph (and only that paragraph) contains spoilers. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

Morgan’s ‘sudden appearance was a bit of a bummer for me. I would’ve liked her to have been a part of the original train journey crew to be honest. It would have alleviated my other little irritation: the sudden romance between Jess and Morgan. Don’t get me wrong I ship them now but I feel like two people with that many secrets would not just inexplicably trust each other after just one week. Or near enough one week, my brain is unsure on the timeline specifics. But really, they must both have *some* kinda trust issues? It’s just not plausible – surely it takes longer than that to build that level of affection. But I digress.

Now all that’s left is what I want from the second book:

  • More info on how the obscurists work, like what’s the theory behind the magic? Tell me before I doubt you. I would never doubt you Rachel Caine, you’re a genius but still. I need that.
  • Background on Santi and Wolfe – like plz, it would make me so happy!
  • Retribution for a character who shall remain nameless
  • Brutality against the bad guys, I want this to blow tf up.
  • I need to know more about the adoptee that appears later in the book.

I thought this book was great so y’all can go read it now.

✩✩✩✩

 4 out of 5

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