December 12, 2015

Review: Blood, Ink & Fire by Ashley Mansour @bloodinkfire


Review:  Blood, Ink & Fire by Ashley Mansour @bloodinkfire

Imagine a world without books…

In the future, books are a distant memory. The written word has been replaced by an ever-present stream of images known as Verity. In the controlling dominion of the United Vales of Fell, reading is obsolete and forbidden, and readers themselves do not—cannot—exist.
But where others see images in the stream, teenager Noelle Hartley sees words. She’s obsessed with what they mean, where they came from, and why they found her.

Noelle’s been keeping her dangerous fixation with words a secret, but on the night before her seventeenth birthday, a rare interruption in the stream leads her to a mysterious volume linked to an underworld of rebel book lovers known as the Nine of the Rising. With the help of the Risers and the beguiling boy Ledger, Noelle discovers that the words within her are precious clues to the books of the earlier time—and as a child of their bookless age, she might be the world’s last hope of bringing them back.

Blood, Ink & Fire is a gripping, evocative tale that asks, who would we be without books?

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Blood, Ink & Fire by Ashley Mansour
Published by: Upturn Publishing  on December 1, 2015



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Take a minute and try to imagine who you would be if books—if reading—had never been a part of your life. Considering the fact that you’re reading this review, I’m going to make the (somewhat broad) assumption that you consider yourself a reader, no matter how miniscule that consideration may be. A world without books and reading is what author Ashley Mansour has created in her novel Blood, Ink & Fire. It’s a world that is harrowing and exciting, dangerous and secretive. It’s everything you could imagine a world without books to be and summed up in one word, it can only be described as this: intense.

Living within the United Vales of Fell, teen Noelle Hartley has grown knowing only Verity, the unending stream of imagery that has rendered books and the written word obsolete. For years, Fell has ensured that books have remained out of the hands of the public, and that reading is a skill that nobody can utilize. And yet, after something goes terribly wrong within Verity, Noelle finds herself committing a forbidden act: she reads. Suddenly, Noelle is swept up into a perilous world in pursuit of a series of volumes alongside a mysterious boy named Ledger. Noelle’s epic journey just might bring books back from the brink and prove that nothing is ever what it seems.

There was something incredibly thought-provoking about Blood, Ink & Fire. A world without books and reading sounds like a scary place—and certainly unlike any place I would want to be in. One of the things I loved most about Blood, Ink & Fire in hindsight was just how the novel stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. Constantly after having finished Blood, Ink & fire, I couldn’t stop myself from constantly thinking of ‘what if’ scenarios. What if I was trapped under Fell’s thumb? What if Noelle hadn’t done the things that she had done? What if, what if, what if…

That being said, Blood, Ink & Fire is a relatable read that I think readers everywhere will enjoy. I think that readers will be able to easily connect with the world that Mansour has created and will have ease imagining the setting. I also think that readers will be able to relate to the novel’s protagonist, Noelle. Personally, I fell in love with Noelle’s character. I loved the way that she was portrayed by the author. Noelle is a character whose growth can be monitored from the very start of the novel to the very end. Noelle is a beacon of light in an otherwise dark world, and more than that, she is strong. What Noelle endures throughout Blood, Ink & Fire is truly endearing and makes her a protagonist that readers won’t be able to resist.

Mansour’s prose is also quite lovely. I found it easy to imagine a scene in my mind’s eye as it played out, and found her writing was able to grasp my attention and maintain it for some time. Blood, Ink & Fire does alternate between the first and third persons, but I absolutely adored the chapters that Mansour wrote from Ledger’s perspective. They were incredibly well-written and left me thinking ‘Wait… do that again’ because I just couldn’t get enough. Those chapters that were scattered through the novel were definitely a treat and some of my favorite parts.

The way that Mansour presents Blood, Ink & Fire is also very unique. I especially loved the way that she incorporated classical literature into her novel. And there are a ton of references to Macbeth and if there’s one thing I love more than reading, it’s re-reading me some Macbeth. Bring on the Macbeth!

I think that readers who want a novel that is equal parts entertaining and imaginative should give Blood, Ink & Fire a read. Readers who want a novel that contains an amazing romance and adventure. I would also recommend Blood, Ink & Fire to readers who want a novel that will leave them consumed with thoughts and eager to read more from the series.


About Ashley Mansour

Ashley Mansour

Ashley Mansour is a writer and creator of stories for children and young adults. Before embarking on solo authorship, Ashley spent eight years working in brand management, music, advertising, and entertainment. In that time she traveled the world, working in three different countries with big teams, emerging artists, major brands, and interesting start-ups.

In mid-2014, Ashley began a yearlong experiment. She overcame her fear of social media, set up an Instagram profile—@ashleymwrites—and began sharing her own personal writing journey (pitfalls and all) with readers and writers online. She discovered a community of amazing people who cared deeply about reading and books—and about the curious story she was writing that featured a world without both of them. One year later, Ashley’s dystopian sci-fi novel for young adults, Blood, Ink & Fire, was complete.

Blood, Ink & Fire is a compelling story for anyone who is passionate about literacy and believes in the power of books. A bibliophile at heart, Ashley loves crafting thrilling narratives for young audiences and imagining future worlds where anything is possible. She currently spends her days in Southern California, where she is enjoying being back on home soil and working on her next novel.


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