Words can kill.
Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny…
Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.
Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library…
Warnings: gun violence, war and massacre, description of serious bodily injury
This book came and punched me in the face and it was awesome! Ash and Quill certainly didn’t give any quarter when it came to dealing emotional damage to us – I can attest to the fact that my heart was pounding in the second half of the book, my nerves screaming at me to read faster to find out what happens next. Since the previous book, Jess and his found family have been trying to stay out of the Archivist’s reach, but in a world of few allies, and even less of them trustworthy, they have to constantly try to stay a few paces ahead of their pursuers. At the end of the last book, they had been captured by the London Burners and sent to the HQ of the movement in Philadelphia, with barely the plans of printing press and their positions to shield them.
Most of the book finds them in hostile territory, in one way or another. Philadelphia has the fanatical Burners who hate them on sight, just for being from the Great Library, fugitive or not. With injured members, and only the promise of the press holding off the aggression, their place in a walled city that is under siege from High Garda is not exactly the best place for this family to recuperate. And Morgan’s Obscurist abilities put her in more danger than just slavery – the toll of the quintessence is starting to show on her, and Jess doesn’t want her to use it, but they don’t have many options. Jess and Dario sort of make up in that they both know that they have to be the ones to plan a strategy out of the place. Thomas is in a darker place since his hard-won freedom, and a bit of a wild card.
The best part of the book is the endless deceptions and clever twists coming their way; there are also a lot of mind-games being played. Since they all are in hostile territory, gaining the upper hand, knowing when to co-operate and how much to give in becomes a dangerous game for them, and the author builds the tension so well. So much of the book is building suspense and mounting horror, and we can see the larger picture of how it could be resolved, the only thing being how they are going to achieve it. One particular touch I liked was in a scene closer to the ending, between Jess and Morgan, which called back to a similar scene in book 1, because the parallels and the character growth from that earlier scene? Wonderful! Of course, there is much more development between the characters otherwise, too, with Dario and Khalila, Glain and Jess, Jess and Branden, and much more. Also Wolfe called them ‘our children’ to Santi *cue happy tears*!!! This was one hell of a sequel and I’m so glad I already have the next one, because I can’t imagine waiting after THAT ending!
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Berkley, via Netgalley.
Previous books in the Great Library series