Book Review: “Ash And Quill” by Rachel Caine

Warning: If you have not read “Ash And Quill” by Rachel Caine, do not read this review if you don’t want spoilers!

I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “Ash And Quill” by Rachel Caine! It’s the third book in the Great Library series, and I already reviewed the first two books, “Ink and Bone” and “Paper and Fire.” Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“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…”

Good news: Wolfe is much more in-character this time around compared to all the angst he seemed to get into last book, and his and Santi’s relationship continues to be amazingly developed. They even got a kiss scene late in the book, and it was about time they did. This part was basically the best part of the whole book.

Bad news: I did not enjoy reading this book as much as I thought I would overall, and I will explain why.

The other two main pairings in the series, compared to Wolfe and Santi, were not so great. Khalia and Dario’s relationship felt so rushed, especially when Dario up and out of the blue proposed to her. When it came to Dario’s development individually, I felt that he got increasingly out of character by acting more and more reckless. Morgan and Jess just don’t fit well together to me due to their differing actions as well as the reveal of how Morgan’s powers are a lot worse than they seem, and so I heavily disliked the scenes between Jess and Morgan together. The chemistry just isn’t there between them, and these two badly-written relationships were a major component of what brought down this book.

When it came to worldbuilding with the Burners, I was also partially disappointed. I understand more of where the Burners come from on their philosophy, but a lot of them did not seem very open-minded at all. If anything, the Burners seemed more close-minded than the people working with the Library were, and the lack of diversity of views in the Burners felt a bit too black-and-white of a situation to read.

The cliffhanger ending was something I partially expected, mainly because of the news that this series was going to be extended to five books long, but at the same time I felt very disappointed by how the ending was written. I don’t know if I fully understand why Jess went and separated everyone and then also disguised himself as his twin brother Brendan. I’m more of anticipating the idea that Santi will probably try to actually kill Jess during the next book for deliberately sending Wolfe straight into the Library’s clutches so they can imprison him and torture him like they did in the past. Why not inform everyone of the plan beforehand so they can better mentally prep themselves for the situations they get randomly thrown into because of Jess’ actions as the grand master of the plan?

Overall, I’m rating this 2 out of 5 stars. I don’t know if I will continue with reading and reviewing this series, given how disappointed I especially feel with this one. Feel free to comment if you think I should continue with this series!


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