Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on August 13, 2018
Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine
Book #4: The Great Library Series
Source: ARC from author and purchase
My Rating: 6 HUGE stars
**I ONLY USE A 5-STAR SYSTEM**
It’s no secret, I found the third book in this series quite frustrating. It was a necessary book, it had to happen, but that doesn’t mean I loved it like I loved the first two. I finished book three desperately hoping book four would come back swinging for the fences . . . . HOLY WOW!! Book four doesn’t just swing for the fences, it knocked it right the hell out of the ballpark!!!!!
Characters: If you have followed me for any length of time, you know I am a character-driven reader. Good characters can carry a book for me, and they certainly did in this read. EVERY character in this book, whether major or minor showed growth, for better or worse. What I particularly loved about the characters in this read is the intricacy of the relationships. The core group, even when they were separated from one another, never wavered in their commitment to one another and/or their cause. Even when separated and confused by another’s actions, the core group understood one another, supported one another, and worked with the knowledge that everyone else was working toward the same goal. This type of faith doesn’t happen without real relationships, friendships, and I could feel those connections through every action, every line of dialogue, and every action!
Outside of the core group are a host of minor characters who should not be easily ignored and/or dismissed. Though there are a ton of characters in this series, each one of them has a significant role to play. There is a complex web of connections and associations in this series that is absolutely fascinating and masterfully crafted. Some of the characters may make only a brief appearance, and their significance may not be immediately recognized, but there is a purpose in their appearance. I love this sort of weaving, this teasing, this incredible cast of characters who have kept me constantly guessing over the entirety of the series.
Plot: WOW!!! I adore the arrangement of this book and how it perfectly served the plot in this installment of the series. For the first time, Caine has broken the chapters into episodes of each character’s life, their individual perspective in the moment. This type of storytelling gave each character a voice in the moment, a perspective the others weren’t always privy to, but gave the reader an overview of everyone and everything. This worked so very well for this story because most of the core group were separated from one another and quite literally in different parts of the world. This type of storytelling allowed for a great amount of information to be disseminated, a ton of plot development to occur, and character evolution to take place. With every twist and turn, and there are an enormous amount of twists and turns, the commitment of the group to one another is reinforced, their loyalty to one another and their cause is reinforced, and their cleverness, courage, and bravery shine through. I read this book in just two sittings because it was so hard to put this book down! This plot is as cleverly crafted as the characters and their relationships, and I was absolutely crazy to find out what happens next. For the record, what happened next, blew my mind . . . every time!!!
The Bottom Line: Y’all, I can’t even get over myself and how much I LOVED this book!! This is what contemporary fiction should be: enlightening, engaging, interesting, riveting, dangerous, socially aware, well written, cleverly crafted, populated with fierce, real characters. Smoke and Iron is all that, and a whole host of other adjectives that elude me at the time of this writing. This is a series I sincerely feel should appeal to a wide variety of readers at a variety of age levels. This is a complicated, complex read that will keep you flipping pages at high speed. With magic, danger, action, intelligence, a variety of characters and character types, this series has a bit of everything for everyone. If you haven’t discovered The Great Library series, do it now! You will not be disappointed.