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by Sarah Pennington

Free 2-day shipping. Buy Ink, Iron, and Glass at Walmart.com. Set in an alternative, Victorian-era Italy, Ink, Iron, and Glass has enough drama, intrigue, and cultural references (e.g. Opera, Fresnel lenses, famous French authors) to make many readers want to learn more about what actually happened in that period. Author Gwendolyn Clare is a scientist and academic, and along the way her characters use real, detailed science, such as chemistry to create a.

Every fantasy author wants to write a world that comes to life on the page. But in the world of “Ink, Iron, and Glass,” Gwendolyn Clare’s steampunk historical fantasy debut novel, the science of “scriptology” allows people to literally bring other worlds into existence.

Our heroine, Elsa, comes from one such world created by her mother. But when her mother is abducted and the book that contains her world disappears, Elsa must use her own scriptology skills and band together with a group of three other young scientists in order to rescue what’s hers before it’s too late. But before long, Elsa and her companions realize that they’ve stumbled into a web of political conspiracy and danger greater than anything they imagined.

No one could deny that the premise of “Ink, Iron, and Glass” is extraordinarily promising. Fantasy set in an alternate Victorian Italy? Magical-scientist protagonists— not just scriptologists, but alchemists and magic-mechanics as well? A tentacle bat-creature? Conspiracy and assassins? It sounds like the recipe for a near-perfect book.

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However, while “Ink, Iron, and Glass” is definitely a unique and engaging read, it falls flat in a few key respects.

One of these aspects is the setting and, in particular, the “magic” system. Certainly there is material to enjoy here. Victorian Italy is a fairly unusual setting, and Clare’s mingling of real history with fantastic elements adds a bit of extra depth to the story.

The various worlds of the scriptologists are fascinating as well, and Clare gives readers a good look at the method behind this science-magic. Unfortunately, scriptology and its accompaniments, alchemy and mechanics, will also raise troublesome questions in some readers’ minds— namely, the question of whether these fields are meant to be science or if they’re really some kind of magic. Certain elements, like the nature of scriptology and the fact that only certain people seem to be able to practice in these fields, suggest magic, yet mechanics seems essentially scientific, and alchemy walks the border between the two. Following this line of questioning causes the worldbuilding to break down all too quickly.

The characters are another mixed bag. On one hand, the cast is fairly well-rounded. Elsa and Porzia are particularly enjoyable to read; they’re both practical and smart without losing their femininity.

The book also features some diversity: Elsa hails from a world reminiscent of the Pacific Islands or somewhere similar, and another character, Faraz, is from Tunisia (by way of Turkey.) However, while one might like and appreciate the characters, something about the way they’re written makes them feel unfortunately distant.

In addition, the main romance between Elsa and Leo smacks of insta-love and shallow attraction. Christian readers likely won’t appreciate the one or two times when the pair edges towards inappropriate situations (though they always stop before actually doing anything more than kissing).

The plot manages to stand strong under scrutiny. The storyline is exciting: not constant action, but enough to keep readers on their toes. The plot twists are foreshadowed well, allowing them to be surprising and satisfying but not out-of-the-blue.

In conclusion, “Ink, Iron, and Glass” is a mixed bag of a book with a fascinating premise but sometimes-poor delivery. Readers who want a casual, exciting, and unique read will likely enjoy this book and eagerly await the sequel (title and release date currently unavailable). However, those looking for deep themes or sturdy worldbuilding will likely have better luck with another book.

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Sarah Pennington is a sophomore Professional Writing and Information Design major and an Arts and Entertainment reporter for Cedars. She loves chai tea and dragons and is perpetually either reading or writing a book.

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Even though I was in love with the premise of Ink, Iron, and Glass I was left less feeling less than satisfied.

Summary

Can she write a world gone wrong?

A certain pen, a certain book, and a certain person can craft entirely new worlds through a branch of science called scriptology. Elsa comes from one such world that was written into creation by her mother—a noted scriptologist.

But when her home is attacked and her mother abducted, Elsa must cross into the real world and use her own scriptology gifts to find her. In an alternative 19th-century Italy, Elsa finds a secret society of pazzerellones—young people with a gift for mechanics, alchemy or scriptology—and meets Leo, a gorgeous mechanist with a smart mouth and a tragic past. She recruits the help of these fellow geniuses just as an assassin arrives on their doorstep.

Review

Ink, Iron, and Glass is one of those books where you love the premise, but wish the book, as a whole was just a little bit better in every aspect. I loved the idea of the world building and magic, but I was left with a confusing grasp of the rules of the magic. And while I really liked Elsa, I didn’t really feel connected to her, or that I knew what made her tick. All the elements for a book I could really love were there, they just needed more on all fronts.

THe World

While I appreciate when a book throws us in the midst of the action, the confusion I felt from the beginning kind of permeated my reading experience for much longer than I would have liked. At the beginning we are thrown into Veladana and the whole concept of scripting a world – which, still now, I have no idea really how it works. And that was one of the biggest disappointments because I really loved the premise. So it was a shame that I felt like it never was really explained.

Pacing

While a book that moves slowly is never a reason I immediately stop reading, Ink, Iron, and Glass takes it a step further. Until about two thirds through, very little happens. There’s a lot of deliberation and steadfast assumption on Elsa’s part that she has to solve her mother’s abduction alone. While I understand that she has to figure out to trust others, it just felt a little drawn out as she comes to know her peers (and while the council is at a standstill – which is probably very realistic).

I think this was another instance of a YA where the adults are basically useless and only the teens seem to be with the program. Maybe it’s because they’re bogged down by bureaucracy and the council – but that aspect felt a little cliched to me.

Characters

Another thing that bugged me is that I did like Leo. I didn’t love him as a character, but I felt like he was almost more complex than Elsa’s back story. But one of his decisions at the ending seemed entirely out of character and if not that, then very abrupt and so the book ends on a very weird feeling for me. I don’t know what to think about him or really the state of book two – which I do plan on reading.

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But

There were elements I enjoyed: how Elsa is explicit in how messed up her home world was where the women were forcibly impregnated by the world builders, and how they are fighting for autonomy. But I wish this was elaborated more in the book – maybe for book two? Another thing I liked was that we get to see a few different models of parents in the story. Ranging from distant, but instructive, to downright manipulative.

Overall,

Ink, Iron, And Glass PDF Free Download

This book was only something I enjoyed. If I didn’t have the sequel, I’m not sure I would read it again, but I am hoping it will deliver on all the elements I liked from the first and expand. Because Ink, Iron and Glass could have used was a little more expansion and depth. Ultimately the main theme that we need friends and a community was a good one and I appreciated that there were rather high stakes throughout the entire novel.

Find Ink, Iron, and Glass on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.

Discussion

What book did you like the sequel much better than the first?


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