Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare
Published by Imprint on February 20, 2018
Series: Ink Iron and Glass #1
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult
Length: 336 pages Source: Amazon
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Can she write a world gone wrong?
A certain pen, a certain book, and a certain person can craft entirely new worlds through a branch of science called scriptology. Elsa comes from one such world that was written into creation by her mother—a noted scriptologist.
But when her home is attacked and her mother abducted, Elsa must cross into the real world and use her own scriptology gifts to find her. In an alternative 19th-century Italy, Elsa finds a secret society of pazzerellones—young people with a gift for mechanics, alchemy or scriptology—and meets Leo, a gorgeous mechanist with a smart mouth and a tragic past. She recruits the help of these fellow geniuses just as an assassin arrives on their doorstep.
I have a historically sordid history with steampunk novels – I am drawn to them, but I rarely love them. The exception, of course, has been Etiquette & Espionage, which I thought was a hoot. It wasn’t the steampunk elements that drew me to Ink, Iron, and Bone – this time, it was the promise of someone with the ability to create worlds.
Unfortunately, this didn’t really pan out for me either. I feel like there’s some irony in this – for a book about scriptologists (world writers), the world building itself was unsatisfying. Clare does a lot of telling and not a lot of showing in the novel. When we began, I had high hopes – we enter with Elsa inspecting a new species of starfish. You see the fog and the landscape, and the curiosity the starfish. Almost immediately afterward, things fall to basic telling. There is almost no use of additional senses in the writing – touch is rare, and scent and taste are unheard of. For me, tantalizing all five of your reader’s senses is what envelopes them into a novel. Clare doesn’t do that at all.
Instead, she relies on a fast pace and a variety of characters to draw the reader in. If you enjoy a quick novel with familiar characters and an instalove relationship, you’ll like Ink, Iron and Glass. Completely underwhelming.. The book is told in three perspectives, and one of them added nothing to the story. Elsa is stuck up and angry, Leo is overly emotional. Alek is flat. I was mostly interested in Leo because I feel like his emotional nature added a bit of depth that was missing from the other two, but he was cliche in his choices.
Clare rushes through scenes so quickly that I had to keep going back because I missed things. This may be on me – I’m a naturally quick reader, but when I’m not fully enveloped in a story, it’s easy to glaze over bits. I got there in the end, but there were some scenes that I can’t really pardon. There’s one instance near the middle of the story where two characters pull out their rapiers and go at it. It could have been an epic scene with impressive feints and excitement, but instead it relied on dialogue and directional actions, and was over in about a page.
All in all, I was bored with this book, but wanted to give it a chance. The steampunk elements were really light, so if you’re not really into steampunk that won’t be an issue. I do wish there was better depth in both the characters and especially the worlds. Ink, Iron, and Glass had a lot of potential, but it needed better development. I think those who like lighter fantasy stories will enjoy it, and in many ways it reminded me of The Girl in the Steel Corset. Steel Corset was a little more interesting in all areas, but with a few books under her belt, I believe that Gwendolyn Clare may write something I’d really enjoy, so I intend to keep an eye on her.
I do believe a lot of people in the community will enjoy Ink, Iron, and Glass. All I ask is that you don’t go in with his expectations, because there are no big surprises and a lot of familiar tropes here. Go in looking for something light, and you won’t be disappointed.
Ink, Iron, and Glass Will be Donated.
This book wasn’t a winner for me – it pulled me in with really high expectations and is something I’ve been very much looking forward to you. Any avid reader can tell you that high expectations often ruin a book, especially if it doesn’t meet that criteria. With weak world building and unreliable characters, Ink, Iron, and Glass left me unsatisfied.
This wasn’t a book I wanted to throw across the room, by any means! But it’s definitely not one I’ll be reading again, so to the library it goes!