Readers who devoured Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire, the first two titles in bestselling author Rachel Caine’s Great Library series, have a summer reading treat in store. Ash and Quill continues this ingenious saga of an alternate world in which the Great Library of Alexandria has not only survived but also become immensely powerful, controlling all knowledge and even the ownership of books.
Jess Brightwell is a likable, compelling hero. He has been raised to love books, despite the fact that his family has “smuggled them, sold them, and profited from them.” As the story opens, Jess and his friends have been transported from London by the Translation Chamber, which can destroy a person and then recreate him or her far away. Jess has landed in the rebellious colonies of America (Philadelphia, to be exact) where “Burners” refuse to submit to the Library’s rule.
There, in a half-ruined sports stadium, Jess is forced to witness books being burned before he is jailed. But, as he reflects, “Prisons—like locks—were made to be broken.”
Ash and Quill is a page-turning adventure, full of danger and intrigue. There’s romance, too, as Jess and the courageous Morgan take on the challenge of trying to save the true core of the Library from evil plotters within.
While Ash and Quill is perfect for teen readers, parents intrigued by the alternate future depicted in Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle might want to borrow this one to stick in a beach bag.
Deborah Hopkinson lives near Portland, Oregon. Her most recent book for young readers is Independence Cake.