Books · Reviews

Ash and Quill – ARC Review (Spoiler-Free)

ash and quill

I was provided with an advanced reader copy by NetGalley for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group for the opportunity.

Hey boys and girls 🙂 How’s it going?

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how much I’ve enjoyed The Great Library trilogy by Rachel Caine. I’ve also just learned that it will now be five books, instead of three! How cool is that?

If you want, you can check out my reviews for the first two books in the series: Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire (both spoiler-free).

Hope you enjoy! ❤

This review is completely spoiler-free.



Ash and Quill is the third book in The Great Library series written by Rachel Caine. Because this is a spoiler-free review, I won’t go into the detail about happens in this book and simply say it follows the adventures of Jess and his friends post-Paper and Fire.



I was really excited to dive into the world of the Great Library again. I enjoyed the first two books quite a bit and think they are pretty much any bookworm’s paradise: a book about books and our love for them. So if you’re a bookworm and you love books, libraries and everything in between (with a generous dash of adventure) do give this one a try!



I thought it would take me a while to get into Ash and Quill, as it had been a few months since Paper and Fire. But I was totally wrong. It was so easy to slip back into this world, the characters, and the story. I didn’t have to worry about remembering any crucial details as the author made sure to refresh my memory here and there.

How the characters have grown. Seriously, the whole cast became so awesome and epic in this book (even more so than before) that I had to keep myself from roaring my approval every few chapters! The girls were especially badass and were never considered “damsels in distress” – no matter how much the boys tried to protect them, at times. They took matters into their own hands and even saved their friends’ butts a couple times.

Not only are they physically capable, but mentally as well. There are, of course, the more intelligent characters but everyone is pretty clever in their own way and together they make the perfect team. They’re also a lot more distinct from previous books and the stereotypes are much more toned down. I could see each character individually in my mind and felt like I actually knew them, inside and out.

The History. If you’re a History fan, you’ll enjoy the little facts thrown in. Some of the stuff that happens in these books is linked to several historical events and serve as an explanation for them; others are alternative realities that are just as fascinating.

The atmosphere. This book is even darker than the previous one, if such a thing was possible. There’s a perfect duality going on: on one hand, the magical world of books and libraries; on the other: the corrupt, vile system. Our heroes go through a great deal of trauma and sacrifice as they navigate this new labyrinth, and one can’t help but feel scared for them.

Everything is going well and smoothly and you are finally ready to breathe out in relief, when something goes terribly wrong and you just scream internally because you have no idea how they’ll get out of it this time!

Even more information about this world is revealed. Just when you thought you knew everything about the Great Library, you get proven wrong. And every single piece of knowledge was as incredible and fascinating as the last, allowing me to put the puzzle together.

The humor. Despite this being a much darker and serious book, there are always great moments of humor that are actually funny and clever (and great ways to sever the tension that sometimes accumulates to the point of suffocation). Again, each character stands out with a humor of their own, which turns out to be a very enjoyable blend.

The geniality of some of these kids is almost out of this world. I was really impressed with all of the ideas and brilliant plans they came up with and, again, how strong and persevering they were when it came to executing them. They were always aware of the risks and what could go wrong, but it never deterred them. Unlike the first book, they are now perfectly conscious of what they got themselves into and they’ve accepted it. Even those I was less sure about ended up surprising me. They were all just so incredibly brave.

The camaraderie in this is one of the best I’ve read in a while. The group is closer than ever and there’s a real sense of duty towards their friends – everyone strives to protect and help everyone and you can tell they would lay their lives on the line for their peers with no hesitation (which they do, multiple times).

There’s no time for romance or anything of the sort in this, so the little moments we get are short and sweet. There is also a great LGBT relationship that will melt your heart.



Similarly to Paper and Fire, there are some moments where it feels like our main characters are relatively safe from harm, though I still got nervous for them. There is a lot of collateral damage throughout the story, don’t get me wrong, but in the end I think I would have liked even more danger.

Some decisions/plans were a bit far-fetched, in my opinion, and I’m not sure how doable they would actually be. I think there were times when the author complicated things a little bit too much, when the answer was a lot more obvious.

Even though I wasn’t bored with the book at all, I still got distracted and sidetracked. This wasn’t the book’s fault, however, yet it definitely hindered my reading experience a bit (thus the book not getting a higher rating). I think the last third of the book was the best one as it held my attention with an iron grip.


Ash and Quill was a great read, from start to finish. The pacing is incredible and there’s always a lot going on so it never gets boring. The characters are amazingly clever and competent, though not in an unbelievable kind of way. There’s been an amazing progression since book one and they’re all grown up. The girl power in this was especially enjoyable.

If you love books, History and strong friendships, you’ll love this series. There’s some clever humor to cut the tension when it gets to unbearable and some really cool action. This is probably the darkest book in The Great Library and possibly my favorite so far.

I think any bookworm would love this as there’s a bit of something for everyone.

Story & Plot: 4halfchoco

Writing & Style: 4choco

Characters: 4halfchoco

Pacing: 5choco

Enjoyment: 4choco

Final Rating:



Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine comes out on tomorrow (July 11th)! Make sure to grab your copy at your local bookstore or pre-order it from BookDepository, Amazon and B&N!

Follow Rachel Caine on Twitter, Goodreads and her official website.


Also check out my reviews for Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire.

Thank you so much for reading and until next time!


Do you plan to read Ash and Quill? Share your thoughts below! ヽ(o^―^o)ノ


32 thoughts on “Ash and Quill – ARC Review (Spoiler-Free)

  1. This series sounds like it has a lot going for it! I haven’t heard of this series until now, but it definitely sounds like something I’d be interested in reading! I love how it has strong female characters, humor, and believable camaraderie among the characters! Those are some of my favorite things to see in books! And I especially like that it includes some historical facts. History is my second favorite subject, just after English 😉 So, I think I’d enjoy this book quite a bit. I’m so glad you ended up liking this book! Fantastic review! I’ll be sure to put this series on my TBR! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It has!! It definitely didn’t win me over right away with the first book but it has been progressing really nicely since then 🙂
      It features some of my favorite things to see in books as well! And it kind of has a Harry Potter vibe to it, especially in the beginning.
      Thank you so much, Azia! ❤ I hope you get to read the series soon, it's really good! AND we'll get two more books now so you know it'll develop nice and slowly 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love it when a series gets better with each installment! Makes it seems all the more worth it in the end 🙂
        Harry Potter vibe?? Well, I wouldn’t know much about that, but it sounds really promising! Man, I need to read HP soon…
        Np! And that’s definitely something to look forward to! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You do know that with posts like these my to read list only is growing bigger by the minute right? Okay, I have already added it, no worries lol 😂 Seriously though, this series sounds like an incredible read. I love books that have great characters and word building, and these certainly sound like they are doing an amazing job. I also love the fact that the book contains strong friendships. The last time I experienced that was with the original Dragonlance saga, and the companions. These characters and the friendship they had were so real, that it at times felt like a family of some sort. This was a great review, and I will be sure to catch up on these at some point 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha sorry about that! xD It really is an amazing series. I wasn’t completely convinced with the first book as I didn’t connect with the main character and the overall feeling was that I was reading Harry Potter 2.0. BUT it definitely grew on me and has become its own thing, which I’m really happy about 🙂
      I haven’t heard of the Dragonlace saga, I don’t think. But I’ll have to check it out now! What you describe, though, it’s exactly how it feels for the characters in The Great Library. They mention the word “family” many times, especially because some of them don’t have families of their own/don’t get along with them. So their friends are everything to them.
      Thank you so much! ❤ And I'll look forward to reading your thoughts on it (and other books) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well….Raistlin is my favorite alltime bookcharacter, and he is from the Dragonlance saga.So, that’s where the name came from. I highly recommend that series. Especially the first two trilogies Chronicles and Legends. Knowing your taste in novels, I think you will highly enjoy those books.
        As for these, they definitely sound very cool. It might be a while before i get to them (you really don’t want to know how big my to read list is lol😂), but I will get to them eventually 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ooohh there are *two* trilogies? :O Daaarrn xD That’s a lot of books hahaha
          I’ll add them to my TBR right away 😉 And yeah, I think I’ll like them quite a lot!
          Hahaha that’s alright 😊 You should see mine! I hope you enjoy them when you get to them, though. I think they’re very worth it!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it was one of my favorite things in it! It really makes you want to cheer with your fist in the air hahaha
      The friendships were so well done, honestly. You grow with these characters and go through so much with them, you kind of end up feeling like they’re family as well 🙂 My heart could barely take it at times…
      I hope you enjoy it just as much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Kim! ❤ Oh I'll look forward to reading your take on it! 🙂
      Indeed, this book especially and the previous one made my heart BLEED. It was hard not to get attached to all the wonderful characters when they went through so much together. I just hope they all survive in the end! It would break my heart (again) to find any of them gone 😭

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That cover is a thing of beauty! ❤ I kind of just want to start with this book because the reviews on the first one on GR make it sound like it's not quite my thing (too much focus on male characters, insta-love, etc.) whereas by this book, it looks like there's a more equal balance and build-up of relationships. And I love the diversity!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed! All the books in the series are, to be honest. It was one of the things that drew me to them in the first place (and of course, the prospect of books and libraries!)
      I’m not sure I would classify any of the relationships in this as instalove… The only one I can think of, one of the people involved actually ends up doing some introspection and realizing that yes, it was pretty much just attraction and plain amazement at first but that they’d grown to love the other person on a deeper level and were completely committed to them at this point. So that’s reassuring 🙂
      I definitely wasn’t the biggest fan of the trilogy at first, and especially not of the male protagonist. But he’s grown on me since and I really like him now. I didn’t notice a gender imbalance, but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. Nonetheless, that is completely gone in this book. The girls take the reins at least 60% of the time!
      There’s tons of nationalities and at least one LGBT relationship I can think of, so yay to diversity indeed! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Iiinteresting, okay, the synopsis and some reviews had me thinking it was male-dominated, but it’s good to hear that even if it did start off that way (eye of the beholder and all), it’s not the case by book 3.

        And aww, that’s a cute description of the relationship – that definitely sounds a lot more positive than ‘instalove’. It is pretty realistic, people do often start off being attracted based on looks, but I like that it was developed on a more deeper level than that.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I thought so too! 🙂 It put a smile on my face, because I’d hated the relationship in the beginning as well and saw no reason for those two characters to be “in love” at all. But when that “confession” rolled in, even though it could be interpreted as the author trying to dispel the instalove accusations, I thought it was awesome and realistic 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  4. 5 books now?! Gosh, you must be so happy hahahah You always seemed so thrilled by this series and I know I would’ve been crazy happy to see it go from 3 to 5 too! 😛 The more you enjoy these sequels, the more you’re making me want to try this series out yoooo And anyone who says “things just get darker” will have me hooked and super intrigued too hahah I also love the sound of “clever” in anything, whether its in humour or plot. It’s something that will always bring me to add that extra star to the book hahah Excellent review Sophie!! Looking forward to your thoughts on the next two in the years to come hihih 😀 😀


    1. I am! In all truth, it wasn’t spectacular at first but it became so good, I’m really happy to have started it hahaha
      Oh you have to, definitely! I think you’d enjoy it. And yeah, when things get darker you know it’s good!! XD
      Than you so much, Lashaan! ❤ Oh you bet I will 😛 And I hope to see your review for at least the first book in the series sometime soon 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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