Ink and Bone

 

 

 

 

 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Author: Rachel Caine
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fantasy
Read: Dec. 2017

The only other Rachel Caine book I’ve read is Stillhouse Lake, which I understand is quite a departure from her other works, but this was so different and I’m impressed Caine is able to bridge both the mystery/thriller and fantasy genres so well.

I thought this was a pretty good novel. It has a bit of a slow start after a pretty intense prologue, but once the action gets going it’s pretty much non-stop throughout the rest of the book. Ink and Bone is the first in a fantasy/dystopian series called The Great Library. The book is set in 2025 between parts of the UK and Alexandria, Egypt. At some point in the past it seems this story has diverged from our history and in order to preserve knowledge and protect against heresy, the library has become the world’s dominant power. The library safeguards human knowledge and teachings by collecting and producing all books and academic studies and forbidding the ownership of original books.

I thought the set-up for the story was a bit weak and as such I was a bit confused in the first part of the novel about what was going on and whether people actually had access to books or not. It seems everyone has a “codex” which is a kind of e-reader and can access some library books, but the ownership of any original book is forbidden, as is the writing of any original works outside of keeping a personal journal that is turned over to the library upon your death.

The main character of the story is Jess, who is a book smuggler in London, selling valuable original books on the black market to collectors as part of the family business. Jess loves books more than anything and hates the smuggling business. So when his father suggests to send him for training to work for the library, he finds himself happy to travel to Alexandria for the library training course.

This is where I thought things got fun and interesting. The training course starts off with a huge group of students competing for only 6 placements at the library, under a very tough scholar, Christopher Wolfe. Things get really intense and the students start to realize the dark underside of the library and just how far the library will go to maintain power. I liked the introduction of the other students, although I feel I didn’t learn enough about any of them. Dario was an intriguing character, as was Morgan Hault, but I haven’t learned enough about their backstories to really understand their characters. Khalila and Glain were totally forgettable characters; they both had really interesting introductions when Jess meets them on the train, but I feel like they were both lacking in personality and depth. Even Jess’ family is a bit of a mystery. I have no idea what’s up with Brennan, but I feel like he’s going to play some larger role in the next books.

That said, I loved Wolfe, Santi, and Thomas! Thomas is just so precious and idealistic. He’s a genuinely kind person and I loved his thirst for knowledge and his naive belief that things could be better. Plus he was an engineer, so I obviously loved him. Wolfe was my favourite though. He was such an asshole at the beginning of the book and I loved how Caine grew his character and slowly showed us his humanity and the depth of his love over the course of the story. I can’t wait to learn more about him in the rest of the series and I hope we learn a little more about Santi too.

Mostly I’m just disappointed that this book has no memorable female characters, which is a bit surprising for this genre and for a female author. The book is interspersed with messages sent between different library officials and starts off with the library forbidding women from contributing to the collection of knowledge and then receiving a message insisting women and girls be allowed to obtain education as well, so I thought this book was going to go in a bit of a different direction. Caine introduces Glain, Khalila, and Morgan early in the book, but Morgan’s really the only one who matters and we learn very little about her. So I really hope Caine remedies this in the next book. I need more info and female character development!

The series definitely raises some interesting questions about knowledge though. I was confused at first because you couldn’t own books, but it seems you could still access everything on the codex, so I didn’t really see why it mattered that much. But the more worrying concern is that the library basically controls the flow of all information. Yes, you can always access things on your codex, but there’s nothing stopping the library from changing what information they distribute or manipulating your writings (if you happen to work for the library and are allowed to publish ideas). Obviously that’s the biggest problem with the library having all the power. The people don’t have the ability to share new ideas or speak out about that which they don’t understand or agree with. The library dictates everything. So I’m interested to see where Caine goes with this in subsequent books.

To finish, this was a pretty good book and I think it has a lot of potential. I will definitely be picking up the sequel!

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Killman Creek

 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Rachel Caine
Genres: Thriller, Horror, Mystery
Read: Dec. 2017

 

OMG, Why did I read this?? Stillhouse Lake was disturbing enough! I didn’t plan to read this one, but damn, I just had to know what was going to happen!

It’s pretty much impossible to review Killman Creek without spoilers for Stillhouse Lake since it ends on a huge cliffhanger, so if you haven’t read Stillhouse Lake yet, stop here. I won’t discuss any spoilers for Killman Creek though.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

—– spoilers for Stillhouse Lake below—–

This book picks up right where the first one left off. Most of the criminals from the prison break have been caught, but of course Melvin Royal is still on the loose. Gwen decides to leave her kids behind with Javier and Kezia and go off with Sam in search of her ex-husband.

Killman Creek is such an emotional roller coaster. If you like thrillers, then this is the book for you, my heart was beating a mile a minute every time I picked up this book. I struggled with the first book in that I found it very graphically disturbing. This one was worse in that it was really emotionally disturbing on top of still being graphic.

I thought Lanny and Connor were basically going to be absent from this book, which I would have been okay with because I can’t deal with people who mess with kids and their story-line stressed me out so much. But they still had a large role in the book and both narrated sections of the story. This definitely made it a better novel and Caine explored a lot of interesting moral themes. We get more insight into Lanny and Connor’s experiences and the emotional struggles of having a serial killer for a father. Especially for Connor who was so young when his Dad was convicted and can only remember the good things about their relationship and really wants a father figure in his life.

This book is definitely a page-turner and once I started it I could not put it down or stop thinking about it. I’m giving it 4 stars because it really is a good book and Rachel Caine definitely made me feel things, but overall it’s just not the book for me. It reminds me a little of Behind Closed Doors, which I read last year, in that it’s a good book, it was just way too dark and disturbing. I’m surprised to see there is going to be a third book next year, but fortunately this one didn’t end on a cliffhanger, so this is where I will step out from this series.

Stillhouse Lake


Rating:
 ⭐⭐⭐.5
Author: Rachel Caine
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
Read: Nov. 2017

 

Oh my goodness, what a roller coaster ride! This book was so intense!

I was really impressed with the first chapter, Stillhouse Lake had such a strong start that it just instantly pulls you into the story and I couldn’t put it down once I started! I often put books on my TBR, forget what they’re about, and then start reading them without re-reading the synopsis, so I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when I picked this up and even the first chapter was a shock to me.

The book starts with a drunk driver hitting Gina Royal’s garage, inadvertently revealing the horrors her husband has been hiding in his “workshop”. Gina had no idea the depth of deception of her serial killer husband, Melvin Royal, and is shocked to find a body hanging in their garage. The story then jumps 4 years ahead, Mel having been convicted and put on death row. Gina was tried as his helper, but was acquitted and has changed her identity (Gwen Proctor) and the names of her two children in an effort to escape the internet trolls screaming for her blood.

This was a really interesting premise because it looks at the lives of the family of a convicted serial killer. Psycho- and sociopaths, and abusers, are often very good at hiding their depravity and acting as normal members of society. They can often deceive their friends and co-workers, with their victims being the only ones to ever know their true selves. But it’s hard to believe you could be happily married to a serial killer and have no idea they were secretly torturing and killing women in your garage. This is the problem Gwen faces. Even though she was acquitted, few people believe her innocence and in the age of the internet, trolls make her life, and the lives of her children, hell.

Women are definitely the victims of an obscene amount of vitriol on the internet. It’s hard to come up with any feminist writer that I follow who hasn’t talked about the abuse and death threats they’ve received just for advocating for women’s issues. Even the average woman isn’t safe on social media from unsolicited opinions, anger, and let’s just say, unwanted photos. Most trolls won’t take their threats any further than an internet post, they mostly get off on psychological trauma, but there are the odd psychopaths out there, so I didn’t blame Gwen for taking the threats seriously and for the extreme lengths she went to protect herself and her children.

This is definitely a psychological thriller and I have to say, it really did mess with me. I was really been torn between 3 and 4 stars because I think this is a really good thriller novel, but I personally had to rate it down a little because I found parts of the novel so disturbing (I can’t handle anything that messes with children). Honestly, I kind of think it needs a trigger warning at the front. But it was a really fast paced novel that explored the theme of trust a lot. My heart broke for Gwen, she kept trusting all the wrong people and I can’t imagine how this would mess with your mind and instincts. I think I would have lost it if I was her, but she had to be strong for her children and I really admired her character for it.

I noticed this had a sequel when I was about half way through, which surprised me, but it had the perfect kind of cliffhanger at the end. One that gives you closure to the story, but has the perfect hook to pull you into the next one. I’m not quite sure if I can handle another book as intense and disturbing as this one, but I will probably still read it because I just need to know how it all turns out!!