In the second installment of The Great Library series, Rachel Caine once again demonstrates her superior writing ability and beautiful storytelling.
With an iron fist, the Great Library ruthlessly controls the knowledge of the world, forbidding personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.
Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but his life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered for ever. Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria.
But Jess’s home isn’t safe any more. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or a Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…
The world of Paper and Fire follows on beautifully from that of the first in the series, Ink and Bone. Our eyes have now been opened to stunning, and sometimes disturbing, new settings. We now see Rome under the rule of the Great Library, as our heroes set out past the borders of Alexandria. Once again the descriptions are beautiful, and I still have the urge to walk around in this world, to see it for myself.
What I find impressive is the detail in which Rachel Caine knows her world – the machinery and technology she has created is fascinating, and is written so well I can imagine it being real. The automata in particular are incredible. They are fearful, and scenes in which they appear will leave your heart pounding – yet they will surprise you, and I hope, mystify you as much as they did me.
The characters continue to pull you in, as they did in the first novel, with their development occurring at a realistic pace. I feel a love for each character, no matter what they have done in the past. I sympathise and hurt and feel joy for them…they have been created wonderfully. I often find myself agreeing with Jess’s thoughts, and I can’t help but wonder if Caine has put a little of her own feelings into Jess, should this situation be real.
I love what the author is doing with this series; in terms of how quickly she is moving it along. I often find with ‘revolution’-type books that we’ll suddenly be pulled forwards, with things moving at a vastly unrealistic pace. Yet with Paper and Fire, this is not the case. I like that we are being taken through the conclusion that things need to change, slowly. For me, it makes the whole thing seem much more real – it feels like the beginnings of a real revolution. I find it enjoyable to read about the beginnings of this huge change, and the steps it will take to overturn such a huge organisation. I only hope this continues in the third novel.
Perhaps one of my favourite parts of Ink and Bone were the ephemera pages; and thankfully they are present once again in Paper and Fire! I love that they give you short snippets from inside the Great Library, or from other characters’ point of view. It adds a wonderful sense of dramatic irony to the book – when the reader knows more than the characters – and leaves you dreading yet excitedly anticipating upcoming scenes.
I made what I have to admit was a brilliant decision to take Paper and Fire on holiday with me. I spent hours lying in the sun devouring every page, every word; and ended up finishing it in record time! It is a truly unputdownable book, and one I highly recommend. If you enjoyed Ink and Bone, then you’ll love its second novel – and if you haven’t read Ink and Bone, why not? I truly adore this series and I cannot wait to see what Rachel Caine comes up with next.
You can read our review of Ink and Bone here.
Enter the Great Library here.