Ash & Quill is the third book in what has recently been revealed by author Rachel Caine to be a five-book series. If you haven’t read the first book “Ink and Bone,” I suggest two things: #1 – read my review, and #2 – definitely read the book.
In Ash & Quill, we are immediately thrown into dire circumstances with our favorite characters. They’ve landed in Philadelphia within the walls of the longest-surviving Burner community. Jess and his friends share a common enemy with the Burners, but that doesn’t make them welcome guests in Philadelphia. In what seems to be a common occurrence for them, Jess and his friends are instantly evaluated for how they can be used. The leader of the burners recognizes them as tools for his resistance against The Library. I worried over each character from the very first page of this story. Caine has you constantly questioning if all of them could possibly survive another day.
“It is a terrible arrogance to think that there are any of humankind who are better or worse, or worth or not.” – The Black Archives
The Great Library holds onto the belief that they need to control what knowledge and information can be shared with the rest of the world. The “black archives” are gone, except for a few books that they managed to save. Within the black archives were many versions of a printing press, as engineered by people who were immediately silenced by The Library. Thomas and Jess are the first team to successfully see such a machine built. The printing press, and the plans for producing more, will be the key to keeping their friends alive and give them a chance to escape America. Unfortunately, their escape from the Burners comes at the cost of lives, and while none of them can accept that, they are forced to quickly move forward regardless.
It is on the journey back to London from America that Jess Brightwell begins plotting, secretly from his friends. Everyone in their group expects to build another press and use it/the design plans to take on The Library, but Jess has anticipated the moves of others. Not just the moves of his enemies, but of his family and friends. Because of that, Jess sacrifices love and trust by betraying his friends whom he holds closer than his own family. I was practically chanting “Tell them, tell them, stop lying, tell them!” through the last few chapters. As readers, we don’t know the details of Jess’ plan (betrayal) until it unravels in the final chapter. Let me tell you, I was very shocked at how it played out.
We won’t know if Jess’ sacrifice was worth it until the next book. We don’t even know if everyone survived the night! The book ends with only a few of the characters in place. Seriously, the “not knowing” is driving me crazy!
Rachel Caine is a brilliant author, so it is no surprise that she has created such brilliant characters. Each of them are well developed and deeply connected to each other which leaves the reader deeply connected to their whole troupe. Kudos to Caine for her care and attention to the diversity of the people in this series. From the beautiful grace of Khalila Seif, to the arrogant aristocrat Dario Santiago, to the gentle giant Thomas Schreiber; These kids are of all colors, sizes, preference, and none of it is forced in the writing. It is just a normal part of who they are and I love that.
If you love books, which you must because you’re reading book reviews, you MUST read this series. It’s a book about books! Ash & Quill comes out July 11, 2017. You have enough time to start or re-read the series – get going!