July 8, 2015

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine – Review and Interview




Gabby-2013Having already read author Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series years ago, I was excited to get reading her newest series The Great Library. If the cover wasn’t enough to hook your attention and tell you that some serious business was about to go down, the novel’s premise will. Imagine a world where the Great Library of Alexandria survived. What would humanity look like? What would the world be if all of those books had been saved and maintain through the ages? Ink and Bone tackles these questions and introduces readers to a unique, immersive world unlike any other.

Set in the year 2025, the Great Library stands in Alexandria, with its’ respectful daughter libraries located all around the planet in the form of Serapeums. Jess Brightwell’s family is dedicated to running books from the Library—original pieces that have withstood the test of time—to the highest bidder. Now in his late teens and having faced the horrors associated with running, Jess’s father manages to get him an opportunity that will make his entire bloodline proud. Jess will become a spy within the Library, by training to join their ranks. But as it turns out, joining the Library’s ranks of scholars is a more daunting task than Jess once believed. Danger lingers at every corner and there’s no knowing just how far he will have to go to become one of them.

What I loved most about Ink and Bone was the world that Caine has created. It is incredibly well-made and is easy to picture in the reader’s mind. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about the novel’s setting. A future where the Great Library lived? What would that entail? So far, it meant a somewhat dystopic future where alchemists still exist in the form of heretics and where the ownership of a truly original book is outlawed.

All in all, the plot itself wasn’t at all what I anticipated based on the description given on the novel’s jacket. I imagined that the story would be all about Jess running books somehow while within the Library and while that does come in (as it’s essential to Jess’s character) there’s so much more to the story. The majority of the novel is nothing but Jess and his fellow Postulants being graded by their Proctor and going through various ‘gauntlets’ too earn their placement within the Library. Very Divergent with less fighting and more problem-solving oriented challenges.

The characters in Ink and Bone are all very diverse in both personality and ethnicity, and I feel that many readers will be able to find characters who they adore and characters who they despise. Personally, I enjoyed Jess’s character and the character Khalila. The two of them had great interactions that just felt so real to read. They’re both head-strong, stubborn and incredibly sassy when need be.

Throughout the novel, you can’t help but wonder if what’s been deemed just in this world really is. The question of morality pops up throughout Ink and bone and leaves readers wondering what they would do if they were in this society. The novel does end on a bit of a cliff-hanger that should leave many readers eager to find out what happens next. My only issue with this book that I can think of, was the instances where high-intensity scenes would have their pace slowed down by unnecessary detailing. Other than that, it was a very entertaining read.

I would recommend this novel to any readers who are looking for a novel where a group of teen protagonists are faced with multiple challenges in order to achieve an end goal (i.e. the Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.). Any readers who are looking for a novel that is all thrilling action with instances of a romantic side-plot should also give it a go. Any readers looking for a well-written, unique setting should also give Ink and Bone a read.


Thanks so much for taking the time and spending time with us here at Chapter by Chapter!

Describe your book in 140 characters or less (like a Tweet)

Author: INK AND BONE is about a world in which the Great Library at Alexandria never burned … and owns knowledge.

What was your inspiration for writing this book?  Was it in a dream? A thought while taking a walk?

Author: It started with an image of a man in black Scholar robes with a stack of books he was carrying out of a city at war … under a flag of truce. The idea that books were more important that the lives of the people trapped in the city made it a very powerful theme for me.

Tell us about the main character(s).

Author: Jess Brightwell grew up in a family of book smugglers; owning private, original books is illegal, and the Library enforces that with prison, or even death. When his father sends him to apprentice at the Library in Alexandria as his inside man, Jess learns that being a Scholar is a dangerous undertaking. Politics is deadly. So are the Burners, a Library resistance movement. His only possible allies are his fellow students … in a cutthroat competition to win one of a very limited number of placements.

Do you have a favorite quote or specific part in the book that you really love?

Author: I think the opening of the book was important for me. It really described the world in which Jess lived, and is a very kinetic, exciting way to open the story. It didn’t happen organically; I actually started the first draft of the book at a different point, and realized that Jess’s younger experience was vital to setting the world and his character.

Was there a specific part in the book that you had an especially difficult time writing?  If so, why?

Author: I think there were some very visceral and emotional parts that were difficult for me; I really wanted to make it real, and many of those moments felt raw and hard to write—but necessary.

What sort of projects do you have going on right now.  Any new books coming out?

Author: I just finished another new book, but it hasn’t been announced yet, so I’ll keep that under my hat! I’m working on the second book of The Great Library series, and I’ve got a number of short fiction projects going as well. Plus, there’s a Morganville Vampires short story collection just finished up that’s coming out next March.

It was great having you on the blog today!  We hope you’ll decide to stop by again someday, and we wish you much success in your writing future!!

Author:  Thank you so much for talking to me, and if I have any closing thoughts, it’s this: support your local libraries. They serve such an important role in our communities and lives!

[about-author author=”Rachel Caine”]


  1. I’ve been looking forward to this book for ages. I’m interested in the library of Alexandria a lot and I have never seen any fiction books about it yet!
    I sadly haven’t read anything by Rachel Caine before but I’ll definitely get my hands on this one. I’m glad you enjoyed it and I hope that it lives up to my expectations.
    I’m mainly skeptical about this whole thing because in order for the whole concept to work, there has to be a lot research. Well done research, that is. :/

  2. I seriously loved this book. I can’t stop thinking about how much I loved it. I think my favorite part was also the world. It’s so visual, dark, and complex. And great interview. After reading the book the inspiration makes so much sense.

  3. Fantastic review I just added this to my library yesterday :)

  4. The Cosy Dragon

    I haven’t heard of it before, but man I love the cover!! Sounds like a great read! Thanks for sharing. :D

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