Hampered Down Storytelling | Review of ‘Ash and Quill’ (The Great Library #3)


By Cynthia Ayala

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine
Berkley
Image Credit: Goodreads

“Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. However, 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. However, 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 will 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.” —Goodreads

Published July 11, 2017, by Berkley Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine is the third novel in her YA alternative history tale about the power of knowledge hidden away by the library of Alexandria.

Ash and Quill is such an interesting novel and probably the most action packed in the series. The story is constantly moving forward creating twists and turns all over the place filling the novel with tension and a shift in character dynamics. However, given that this is book three in the novel, there doesn’t seem to be much character growth all around. Many of the characters feel as though they have not changed or grown. Their dynamics also appear to have stayed the same, for the most part. It is interesting to see how some of the harshnesses of the world has affected their characters, giving them a limited scope of development, but still, after everything they have been through, after three novels, the characters seem almost stagnant. Their dynamics have not shifted enough to make the readers care enough about them. Their situation is tension driven with this band of heroes hunted on all sides. They have no friends anywhere, except for family and the people in their group that they cannot even trust fully. So really, each character is on their own in this novel, and while that creates tension, it is some of the same tension already presented in the previous novels. They have gone through so much, yet it does not properly reflect on the dynamics of the characters. That is not to say they are poorly written characters; it is only that their growth is limited.

As for the story, much of it is repetitive, it is more of the same from the previous novels, but at the same time, there’s a lot of history and backtracking. There’s so much that has happened, and the constant references make it almost necessary for the reader to have to re-read the previous novels. There is just so much reference to the events of the previous novel however they are made with the minimalist of detail. Now on the one hand that’s good because then the story is not weighed down except for the fact that there’s so much reference with the smallest of details making it seem as though the reader has to re-read the series. Moreover, at that point, it weighs down the story and takes away from the character development.

It is an interesting story about the love of books, and it is an overall plot line that everyone can appreciate, about knowledge and how it should be shared and not hoarded for power. The idea behind the novel is very interesting, and the mechanics of the novel itself make the story captivating. Moreover, while there is limited growth, the diverse nature of the characters and their dynamics make the story interesting to follow. There are many twists and turns, plots within plots that don’t unveil themselves until the last moment keeps the pace of the story moving forward. Overall it is an enjoyable novel. (★★★☆☆ | C+)

Product Details:

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

Page count: 368pp

Age Range: 14 & Over

ISBN: 978-0-4514-7241-0

Publisher: Berkley

List Price:  $17.99

Get a Copy:

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