Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Posted January 24, 2019 by Amber in Reviews / 8 Comments

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine


Published by New American Library on April 5, 2016
Series: The Great Library #1
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Historical, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 374 pages Source: Amazon

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryIndieBound


In an exhilarating new series, "New York Times" bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family. Jess has been sent to be his family's spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library's service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe knowledge is more valuable than any human life and soon both heretics and books will burn.

A handful of bloggers I really enjoy have been talking about this series since I rejoined this community, and it’s been on my TBR for a while.  On one hand – um, this is about a LIBRARY and also FANTASY so HI I AM HERE SIGN ME UP.  But on the other hand, I read book one of Rachel Caine’s popular Morganville Vampires series a couple years ago and it really wasn’t for me.

There were two reviews that got Ink and Bone on to my TBR.  The first was Cait over at Paperfury, who actually wrote a whole post about how underrated the series is and how it needs more love.  Then there’s Iris, who screams her love for the series on Goodreads.  The Great Library is a series that I see a handful of people dutifully screaming about.  Then it’s not mentioned ANYWHERE else.  Well, loves?  I’m going to join the ranks.

Conceptually, I love this book.  There’s the underlying edges of dystopia all while it feels like alternate history or even fantasy.  This is a world where not only did the Great Library of Alexandria survive, but it’s Big Brother.  The reading, purchase, and writing of books is heavily policed in order to control the spread of knowledge.  Creativity is considered a fault, one that could get you murdered is you think up the wrong thing.

I love it, love it, love it.  As a whole novel, it had its ups and downs.  There were strong moments, and shaky moments.  Some characters were better than others.  I thought Glain’s character was a bit flat, but I really enjoyed Morgan and Thomas and the multitudes they weren’t sharing.  This is the type of book that is a bit kill-happy, so like A Game of Thrones, don’t get too attached.  But it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed getting wrapped up in this world.  I think that the types of books that strike emotion into the reader are the best sorts of books, and I felt such rage for the authorities in Ink and Bone that this was a ride for me.

As far as plot goes, the pacing is very quick and the points are a bit scattered.  I think that Ink and Bone is a book that shines in its moments more than in totality.  There’s a scene with the postulates on a train that feels like the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and that made me all fuzzy inside with nostalgia.  But then there were the challenges and instead of diving into them and rooting with the postulates, it felt like we were fast forwarding to get to the good parts.  I was totally into the first challenge, and I felt a bit cheated, if we’re being honest.

Then there are the characters.  Between the train ride and the first night at the boarding house, we’re presented the different postulates, all with resoundingly different personalities.  I don’t feel like most of the characters grew into themselves throughout the story.  They seemed to be the same sorts of people, even Jess.  Diago’s bad boy visage was a bit worrisome for a few pages, but then it became tiresome.  I suppose a lot of people don’t change much in the matter of a couple months, but it would have been nice to see a bit more development and kinship after everything these characters went through together.


I just really like this world and even with all the moments of being unimpressed, I want to know more about the Great Library.

I think this is a bit of an unpopular opinion, because I’ve seen a few different reviews out there saying the world building is weak but the characters are fantastic.  I felt opposite?  I’m definitely here for the steampunk, dystopian, alchemical future and for the Library and the books themselves.  If I had one criticism, I really would say I’d’ve liked to have seen more books.  This is a library after all.

Altogether, I really enjoyed this one, despite its flaws.  I think it’s a super fun story and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the postulate’s training and testing and rooting for your favorite characters.

The Breakdown
Personal Enjoyment
Overall: four-stars

Ink and Bone stays on the shelf!

This is a delightful world and a story I can definitely see myself revisiting in the future.  I’d like to listen to the audiobook, actually, I just feel like this one would be a thrilling listen.  But I’m on next to Paper and Fire (which I already own – yay me and buying the wrong book first) and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story progresses.


How do you feel about the regulation of knowledge?

What books about libraries do you enjoy?

Do you have ink in your bones?

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

8 responses to “Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

  1. I have heard so, so much about this series and I added it to my TBR because of other bloggers’ reviews, Cait’s too and I’ve been so curious about it. The world-building and concept overall sounds fantastic and I’m really impatient to discover it – your review just makes me want to wish I could buy it right this very second ?
    Fantastic review, Amber! <3

    • Amber

      I really really hope you love it! It was on my TBR for about two years before I finally picked it up and it definitely held up for me. 🙂 Thanks, Marie!

  2. Ahhhhhh I’m so happy you liked this!! I love this book SO MUCH! The world building truly is spectacular! And I absolutely ADORE the characters, but I feel like I didn’t love them as much in the first book? It was a while ago, but I feel like my undying love for the characters didn’t really form until book two maybe? I don’t really know, its been a while but I DO think I get what you mean. I sort of just feel like the series gets better and better honestly.

    And awww I’m so glad my screaming about it was a part of why you added it to your tbr 🙂 <3

    Iris @ Hoard of Books recently posted: Bookish End of Year Survey 2018 (Part 1)
    • Amber

      Blogger reviews matter! Without you and Cait, this wouldn’t have been on my radar at all, even though it’s right up my alley and I loved it! I’m so excited to hear that they get developed more in later books… and I also love that there’s (I think) five books in this series? So far? I love it when a good series has a bunch of books!!!

  3. Welcome to the club, Amber! Wahahaha…I am crazy in love with The Great Library series! Enough to say that I do like it better than HP. I agree with the lack of character development in book one, but since I read the entire series without a break, I can tell you that it does get better! I think the most telling would be in book three and four. I hope you’ll post more about the rest of the series!

    • Amber

      I will definitely keep reading this series (I already own book 2 lol), though I couldn’t tell you exactly WHEN I’ll be reading the rest. But it’s going to happen – I love it. Also thank you for sharing this review on Twitter? You’re wonderful. 🙂 🙂 🙂