Top critical review
3.5 stars!!! Book #3: The Great Library Series
Reviewed in the United States on February 25, 2018
Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine
Book #3: The Great Library Series
My Rating: 3½/5 stars
Jess Brightwell has always known trusting his father is a crap shoot at best. If the reward or payoff is better than his son’s life, the money wins every single time. The latest bit of betrayal has Jess and his friends locked in a primitive in jail in Philadelphia, the historic home of the Burners.
Trapped in the midst of a starving, desperate group of people who have been battling the Great Library for decades, Jess and his friends may be in deeper than they ever have been. The Burners have no use for a group of book lovers and a very great need for a bargaining chip. Or chips in this case. As the situation stands, Philadelphia is on the verge of collapse and everyone from their leaders to the lowest member of society understands the reality of their situation. Handing over Jess and his group may buy them not only some time, but their lives. However, before the Burners turn over Jess and his friends, they’re going to get their hands on Thomas’ incredible printing press.
Ever the realist, Jess understands the gravity of the situation in which he and his friends find themselves. Beyond that, Jess understands he and his friends have very little leverage and if they’re going to get out alive, they are going to have to play dirty, make deals with questionable parties, and pray they aren’t, once again betrayed. Getting out of Philadelphia isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t without tragedy, but it does happen which leads the group of fugitives, seemingly from the frying pan right into the fire. In this case, the fire is, once again, Jess’s father.
In the second half of Ash and Quill, Jess and his friends, much depleted, demoralized, and somewhat desperate following their escape from Philadelphia, take refuge with Jess’s family. While some among the group see the stay as a respite in a safe haven, Jess sees the situation for exactly what it, another prison. Though Jess doesn’t know his father’s exact plan, he knows there is a plan (a plot if we’re being fair) and it won’t benefit anyone but Jess’s father. What happens in the days among his family is a rife with tension, plotting, and planning. Jess has no intention of hurting and/or betraying his friends, but as his father’s plans begin to unfold and become ever clearer, Jess realizes the only way to save everyone he truly cares for is to betray them. He can only hope, when the smoke clears, his friends will understand his actions and forgive his actions.
The Bottom Line: At the end of the day, The Great Library series is still one of my all-time favorites, but this installment isn’t going to be one of my favorites. To be fair, Ash and Quill is exactly the type of book every series must have. It’s the mid-point of series which closes the book on the first half of the series and sets up the plot and action for the second half of the series. While the first part of this book was necessary to the continuation of the series, it wasn’t particularly interesting and read quite slowly. Once Jess and his friends break free from the Burners, they are again on the run and fighting for their lives. The action, drama, and intrigue absolutely pick up in the second half of this book and set the stage for the final one (or two?) books in the series. As always, nothing is as it seems and the last one (or two?) books in this series should be absolutely stunning in its (their?) action, drama, intrigue, revelations, and resolution. The world of the Great Library is on the precipice of huge change, world-altering change, I believe Jess and his friends are going to be at the forefront of the whole damn mess.