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Ink, Iron, and Glass #1

Ink, Iron, and Glass

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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, where her mother―a noted scriptologist―constantly alters and expands their reality.

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

In this thrilling debut, worlds collide as Elsa unveils a deep political conspiracy seeking to unlock the most dangerous weapon ever created―and only she can stop it.

336 pages, ebook

First published February 20, 2018

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About the author

Gwendolyn Clare

29 books236 followers
Gwendolyn Clare's debut novel -- INK, IRON, AND GLASS -- is the first in a steampunk duology about a young mad scientist with the ability to write new worlds into existence, out now from Imprint. Her short stories have appeared in Clarkesworld, Asimov's, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, among others, and her poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award. She holds a BA in Ecology, a BS in Geophysics, a PhD in Mycology, and swears she's done collecting acronyms. She lives in North Carolina with too many cats, too many ducks, and never enough books.

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5 stars
450 (18%)
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782 (32%)
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758 (31%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 491 reviews
Profile Image for Biz.
222 reviews102 followers
December 29, 2017
One of my least favorite things in the world is when I read a book that I self-hyped so much in my mind and then the actual product monumentally disappoints.

And Ink, Iron, and Glass is the PERFECT example, so I guess it's good for something after all :')

What makes it worse is that this book has the kind of concept that could work on pretty much any medium. A steampunk novel where the main character is a character in a world that became sentient?? And she creates worlds but then her world gets destroyed and she’s stuck in 19th Century Europe and has to try and find her way back?? I would read this book, go see this movie, binge-watch this TV show, and play this video game Every. Single. Time.

But, alas. This book is just. Bad.

First off, these Victorian Europe characters were born sounding like they were born in the 90s. The 1990s. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have noticed if they hadn’t switched from sounding modern to sounding like actual legitimate characters from a historical fiction novel back to modern so many times. It was sooo choppily written and extremely jarring and I feel like my mind and my ears have to sleep for a thousand years to get the sound of this dialogue out of my brain.

Also this book has highkey one of the most annoying cases of instalove I have ever read in a novel and ohhh my goshhh I want to die just thinking about it. I’m talking full on ”The boy looked up, and for a second their gazes locked,” and I mean honestly I’m just so sick of this crap loll.
”He gave her an annoyed look, which did nothing to lessen the perfect angle of his features.”
I can’t wait for death

This book also did a whole lot of telling and not showing. It made the exposition almost as choppy as the dialogue.

Okay – and here’s the thing. I feel weird and reluctant calling out a steampunk/alt-history novel for historical inaccuracies, but listen. Usually in steampunk, the technology that is incorporated is some new invention, or it’s modern-day technologies with some sort of anachronistic twist, but this book just took random, plain ol’ modern day inventions without any twist and shoves them into the story (e.g. radial saws and flamethrowers). And sure, there’s some pretty basic and two-dimensional robots and a sentient household, but instead of invoking the wonder and fangirling that steampunk novels usually do in me, I was just bored. The world-building and technological aspects are just weak.

Another thing about the historical inaccuracies – a lot of this book (or, at least, a lot of the part that I read), takes place in Sardinia, and there is absolutely no mention of Sardo, the Sardinian Language. Though many citizens spoke Italian at the time, Sardo was still a main language and the idea that there is absolutely no mention of it when de Vries and Elsa arrive in Sardinia and Elsa is learning Italian seems less like a minor alternate-history decision and more like weak writing. Literally all you have to do is google “what language do they speak in Sardinia.” It’s not that hard to avoid linguistic errors like this.

Also, and by no means is this a Frozen knockoff, but I Legitimately Cannot Physically Read the name Elsa without thinking of Idina Menzel hiding out in an ice castle.

Plus, and this definitely isn’t a Rick Riordan knockoff, but when I hear of a character named Leo who has curly hair and is a mechanic I am incapable of picturing anyone else besides Leo Valdez. The Leo in this book is Leo Valdez now.

So, bottom line is I would probably skip this one unless you are REALLY into steampunk and will read even the super crappy ones. This was not a good novel and it did not fill my fantasy craving. I’m disappointed.

idk if it's just because I'm tired but this book is kind of pissing me off and it's past midnight and I have finals to study for and I just don't have the energy so./ this may be back on my currently reading shelf tomorrow morning who knows?? I certainly don't
Profile Image for Lisa.
826 reviews480 followers
December 28, 2017
ETA: So glad I picked this up. The action picked up immediately, and I saw new depth with the characters. Plus, wow, some surprises that I'm still reeling from!
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
587 reviews818 followers
May 9, 2020
I really wanted to enjoy this. Really, really.

I had so many hopes--this was going to magical and dangerous and a total romp through the woods with twists and turns and betrayal and swoon-worthy romance. I wanted to be in Clare's spell--following along enthusiastically.

I forgot that this was a fantasy. (Technically, steampunk, which is basically fantasy in this case.) Fantasy can have books that are huge successes for me, mediocre stories, or total disasters. This fell into that unhelpful middle category of having so much potential, but unfortunately lacking in execution, making it average and bland.

I so wanted to enjoy this, and on some aspects I managed to--the magic system, although somewhat basic and sometimes-but-not-always convenient, was interesting and novel to me, and I loved reading about the scriptology and alchemy and mechanics and this was all so interesting--there was vast potential in this storyline.

Although I feel like this wasn't fully explored in this book, I do have high hopes for this plotline in the next novel as I think it made good progress and has more yet to come.

This was really the highlight of the novel--I just loved the steampunk aspect, and the historical-Italy setting didn't hurt either.

But what ended up averaging with the five (and also marring other parts of the story) was just the characters.

They were all so flat. I never really got a chance to grasp who they were and to understand their hopes and dreams and desires on a deeper scale rather than "Leo has daddy issues" and "Elsa misses her mother" and it was all very two-dimensional. It felt like I'd met all of the characters before in other books, seeing the same type of backstory or the same entitlement or the same sort of dynamic. And it's not necessarily unoriginality, but it's just so bland and regular and common. Just like clichés aren't all bad, common characters aren't all bad either.

But they are in such a grand scale that no character felt unique to me. Where they did have developed backstories or layered issues, it was still something that didn't give the reader that greater sense of understanding and made me feel like I was knowing what they wanted me to see, not what I wanted to see.

And I know that this is someone's baby--Clare is bound to love the characters like they were her own because she crafted them. How can I go and insult something that someone else loves?

Yet, I have to be honest and say that I unfortunately just didn't like this batch of characters. Besides feeling done-before and two-dimensional, there were just things about them that bothered me.

Elsa was nearly flawless all around--she does almost everything right and is successful when she tries and is hardworking and the paragon of a good, hardworking daughter. But wait--she's totally flawed emotionally because "love is a weakness." (See quote for uncorrected proof:)
"Jumi had taught her that love was a weakness--that if you let someone in, you gave them the power to hurt you."

This trope doesn't always bother me, but I felt like it wasn't hashed out enough. The only thing this really affected was Elsa's love issues and this was one of the more miniscule parts of the novel.

Leo, the other main protagonist, also suffers from unhashed-backstory-syndrome and he's got problems after both his parents and his brother died in an attack. I can't spoil too much of this plotline, but I just wasn't really a fan of how this worked out and it felt cliché.

There's a few other things that I wanted to point out that were effects of the characters.

Firstly, the romance was just something I wasn't into. I didn't feel like there was chemistry and Leo and Elsa felt more platonic than anything to me. When they did have a little spark, it felt pretty forced to me and I would have been a lot more satisfied if they just stayed friends.

I liked how Clare added diversity in Elsa being brown, but I felt like it was almost tiptoed around. Actually tackling the idea of race in this circumstance would have really changed the narrative to make it more profound, but by tiptoeing around this idea that "Oh, Elsa's brown, but we don't know too much about it" made it seem kind of there to be there rather than there to be used and addressed. I understand if Clare is uncomfortable with writing about this (better to stay in your own lane than to go and offend a couple dozen people), but I wanted more from this and felt that there was a lot of potential in this storyline that was lacking because Elsa was so cookie-cutter.

Also, the plot was largely fine by me. They did some traipsing around and talking and trying to find something to do, which didn't bother me too much. Things sped up later in the story during the climax where they were doing all sorts of crazy things in labyrinths.

But what bothered me about the plot was a decision Leo makes which the reader discovers at the very, very end, and it led me to developing an intense dislike for his character. He take the choice away from others without them knowing, and this was a terrible move for him to do without counsel. I felt like he was "playing God" and doing things that shouldn't be done, and I really hope this is addressed as something that shouldn't be done during book 2.

Overall, I didn't really enjoy this book very much and it ended up being a large fault of the characters. And this isn't a terrible book--for me, it ended up being unfortunately average and bland for the most part--but if the characters do sound like people you'd like (not everyone shares my opinions of them being bland), then I say go for it. This just ended up being not the book for me. (Though I give it a giant kudos for including the serial comma!)
Profile Image for Carlos.
588 reviews287 followers
April 1, 2018
Meh is all I can muster for this book, great idea and a lot of potential but the execution left a lot to be desired, it didn’t work at least for me , I thought the author could have done a lot more to expand the characters and explore the world she created in this book, instead there were moments when you forgot what you were reading and who was who. It wasn’t a horrible book , it just didn’t work for me because of its format and choice for a plot , I will still read its sequel to see whether the author decided to explore more of this world in the next book.
Profile Image for Michelle .
1,996 reviews226 followers
January 22, 2018
**You can see this full review and more at Book Briefs: https://bookbriefs.net**
Ink, Iron, and Glass is the first book in a new duology by the same name from debut novelist Gwendolyn Clare. Ink, Iron, and Glass is a steampunk fantasy duology about a world where a type of science called scriptology exists. Scriptology is a science magic hybrid where the "scientist" can actually create a new world by scripting or writing it into existence. This concept gripped me right from the start. How awesome and complex it would be. And I was immediately intrigued to see how Gwendolyn Clare would handle such a big idea. And I have to say, she handled it really well. I loved that she didn't water the idea of writing a world into existence. She embraced how complicated and complex it would be. You have to make it livable world. If you create a world that does not support air, then everyone in that world would die. Same with gravity, warmth, food. Creating a world was not just about writing flowery descriptions of the rolling hills and beautiful field of flowers. Your coding had to back up with a world that was actually inhabitable. And I loved that. That also meant that the start of the book is a little dense. In a good way. There is a lot going on in the world of Ink, Iron, and Glass. 

Ink, Iron, and Glass is a book that really builds as it goes on. It was a book that just kept getting better and better. By the time I was done, I didn't want it to end. I loved the whole gang of characters. We follow Elsa who is on a quest to find her worldbook, after her home world was attacked. Elsa is a special kind of person and soon she finds herself a group of people who have abilities like she does. The group home kind of reminded me of refuge for masterminds, but with a magical element. They are called pazzerellones, and it was here that the steampunk elements of the story really came to life. I loved watching Elsa interact with people who were gifted either mechanically, or able to perform alchemy or scriptology, like she could. They set off to help her find her wolrd book, and they become entwined in something much larger than they expected. I loved the politics and all of the secrets.

Ink, Iron and Glass combines so many elements that I love in a fantasy. It has great characters, a really cool science and magic system, and a great plot line. The world itself was my favorite part of the novel. I just could not get enough of Scriptology. I really appreciate how much time and detail Gwendolyn Clare went into. She describes the world structure very well, which gave me a really solid foundation while I was reading. And then the adventure she sends the characters on was great. I loved some of the twists and secrets that were revealed, and I really liked the friendships that were formed. I was so happy to see positive friendships come from the group of pazzerellones. 

Ink, Iron and Glass is a fantastic debut novel, filled with magic, politics, intrigue, magic and a really fascinatingly complex world. This novel had me thinking all kinds of fantastical things. I cannot wait to get my hands on a finished copy of this one as well. The cover is stunning. I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the next book. I am excited to see how this duology wraps up.  This is a book you want to keep on your radar for sure.

This review was originally posted on Book Briefs
Profile Image for Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews).
1,694 reviews872 followers
March 6, 2020
A vibrant creative alternate world with mechanists, alchemists, and scriptologists populating the streets of an alt-Pisa and even stranger worlds beyond that. A rich and inventive story; some of the finer magical aspects may be unexplained but the excellent characters and the strong plotting compensate. There is a lot of imagination at play here and I also super enjoyed this various dispositions of this cast -- how they complemented, contrasted, and challenged one another.

Clare has created a promising start to a uniquely memorable series with new magic systems and alternate history at work within it.
Profile Image for Ishmeen.
378 reviews152 followers
March 25, 2018
3.5/5 stars!!! The world building in this book is absolutely amazing y’all and the plot was just so unique?? what a nice change from your typical YA fantasy honestly bless 👏🏻 I wouldn’t say I loved this book since the characters and complexity of the plot could use some work but I hope that’s what the next books in the series are for ~
Profile Image for Rian *fire and books*.
475 reviews135 followers
June 18, 2020
DNF at 40%

Sorry guys but I just COULD NOT get into this. I didn't care about the missing mother, the 'mad people', and honestly the whole thing.

I'm sorry. So sorry. I just wanted to love this so profoundly but I just found it so 'meh'.

Thank you to Netgalley for the chance to read this and best of luck to Gwendolyn Clare.
Profile Image for Nainika Gupta.
Author 1 book58 followers
July 27, 2022
I like gilds. And apprenticeships. And historical fantasy. So it hit all the boxes. Except for character development....not the greatest. But still good setting!!
Profile Image for Christina (Ensconced in Lit).
984 reviews288 followers
January 17, 2018
This book is super hard for me to rate because it's somewhere between 4 to 5 stars. It has a brilliantly conceived world and the world building is superb (and not something I usually harp on or care about). It's a quiet book, doesn't have a lot of flashy plot twists, but there's just something about it. The main character is super relatable to me, and she has a fascinating personality and limitations that she has to grow from. The character arcs are very nice. It wasn't a super fast paced book, I could put it down and pick it up again but I always wanted to pick it back up to see where the characters were going. Reading it felt like a mashup between Narnia, Harry Potter, and the Golden Compass. I'm not sure how the reception is going to be on this book because there are much flashier books coming out now, but I hope people pick it up. It's well worth reading.
Profile Image for Jay G.
1,206 reviews466 followers
March 5, 2019
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...

In this universe, worlds are made using a special book and pen by scriptologists who constantly expand these worlds. Elsa is a scriptologist from a world her mother created using this skill. One day, her mother is kidnapped and Elsa must travel to 19th century Italy looking for help. There she discovers a secret society of teenagers who are scriptologists as well as mechanists and alchemists. When there she meets a mechanist named Leo and his friends and they set off to try and find Elsa's mother and save her world.

Personally, I think the book started off very slowly and didn't catch my attention until about 3/4 of the way through. There was a huge info dump at the beginning of the book, causing the slow start but it got better as it progressed. The concept was intriguing but I think the execution could have been better.

The characters weren't anything memorable to me and I didn't find myself sympathizing or caring about what happened to any of them. There was also a huge case of instalove, one of my biggest pet peeves, so not a huge fan. My favourite part of the book was Scander, an octopus like creature with wings... honestly he had more personality than our main character and I just want the entire book to be about him instead.

I won a copy of the sequel from the author so I will be continuing with the series!
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,080 reviews215 followers
April 6, 2019
I was told by a friend, Andy, not to give this book a chance. I think we were supposed to BR it last month.. but I never got around to it. Luckily for this book, I found a new buddy, Jennifer to be my BR victim. Weirdly enough, we all rated this book the same. Kind of laughable.. or is it kind of sad.

The beginning of Ink, Iron, and Glass was interesting. It intrigued me so much that I wanted to know more about this world. Whether it was the magic aspect or the characters itself - the story was okay. I wanted more, especially since the cover is pretty to look at, but this book - ugh! So many things intrigued me and others were frustrating to get through. The romance was more of a bormance in my eyes. I just couldn't get with it and hoped that it would be a friendship kind of thing.

Besides that, the betrayal was a given. I didn't think Leo would fully commit to everything towards the end.. but he decided to burn all his bridges. I'm a bit intrigued with his family and their dynamics because they all seem super crazy. I guess I will dive into the next book but I will have zero expectations for it.
Profile Image for SilverWolfReads.
22 reviews3 followers
October 1, 2017


I'm writing this review STRAIGHT AWAY after completing 'Ink, Iron and Glass' by Gwendolyn Clare, and I'm in complete utter agony.

This book was gripping, delicious and delightfully entertaining - it pulled me in from the very first page and demanded that I rarely put it down (oops, sorry University work - you'll have to wait!). It was engaging in a way that most of the books I've read recently haven't been in a long time, and I can feel myself breaking out of an almost self-indulged reading slump.

This book follows Elsa, a person who was written into the world by what can best be described as "magical ink" as she gets ripped away from her home and the life she knew after her mother gets kidnapped.

Drama ensues. Elsa develops a crush (BUT THIS IS IN NO WAY AT ALL A MAIN FEATURE OF THE BOOK. IT'S MORE LIKE A CONVENIENT FEATURE THAT ALLOWS CLARE TO RIP. YOUR. HEART. OUT), and she has to develop her knowledge and battle a series of difficult trials in order to get her mum back.

This book was kick-ass from cover to finish, and it's writing style was very much luck that of Cassandra Clare's. The world involves some sort of steam-punky elements (or that's the vibe I got from it), and there's plenty of mysterious 'types of humans', much like in our beloved Mortal Instruments books.

Sadly, though, Ink and Iron Glass just wasn't quite hooking enough to make it a five star read. The plot felt slow at points, and some parts of the book felt like I was reading someone's attempt of trying to increase their word count in a particularly creative English essay. Meaning, some scenes were just not needed.

Elsa herself was definitely redeemed near the end, but, admittedly, she was arrogant, haughty and a little bit up-her-own-ass. Whilst annoying for the reader, her characterisation was perfect for the picture Gwendolyn Clare was trying to paint - a teenage girl who wasn't used to having friends and wasn't used to compromising, making her selfish and unbearable at times. All the characters were believably written, and Leo (my baby *-*) deserves a special shout out for being a new book crush.

If only I was in a world where I could write HIM into existence.

Overall, I loved jumping (quite literally) into the world of Ink, Iron & Glass and would definitely recommend it as a must-buy for fans of our Queen Cassandra Clare, and of course any fantasy lovers who wish they could write a fictional world into existence.


That is my honest opinion, so I'm signing out.

-SilverWolfReads, howling her opinions online xx
Profile Image for nat..
383 reviews181 followers
July 13, 2018
you know what I love ...?

I love girls who wear dresses, and kick ass intellectually or, you know, physically. I love steampunk, political history and stories that take place in the 1800’s ...

“every great leader gets demonized by someone. it is the price we pay for pursuing our vision of the future.”

and this did not disappoint!
Profile Image for Ashy Khaira.
363 reviews52 followers
June 1, 2019
the book started off a little boring with how elsa was describing things and the unexplained disturbance in the shield she felt.It felt like it was getting boring no matter what how much i tried to get into it in the beginning.Until she went to earth through the portal after her mother was kidnapped and meets the three children who became her friends

One thing leads to another and we see romance blooming slowly between leo and elsa despite everything that has happened.Just as Elsa thinks she was wrong not to trust anyone as everything seems fine,Leo betrays her by taking the world book.But what's going to happen next,and why did he take it truly?Will she ever get the book back?Can't wait to read the next book
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Galleane.
1,460 reviews150 followers
June 12, 2018
Abandon : 159/467 pages.

Impossible de continuer ma lecture. Explications insuffisantes, personnages et histoire sans intérêt. Ajoutez des manques de logique dans ce qui était raconté ainsi que dans le comportement des protagonistes et une écriture tout sauf attractive, je dirais même que c'est assez mal écrit. Même si j'ai lu une traduction, j'ai vraiment eu l'impression que le style de l'auteure n'était pas bon.
Profile Image for Stephanie Anze.
657 reviews112 followers
May 7, 2018
Elsa lives in Veldana, a world that came to life via scriptology. Scriptology is a branch of science where a certain pen, book and author bring alive a world that did not previously exist. Her mother Jumi, an expert scriptologist, is in charge of altering and expanding Veldana until one day she is kidnapped and its up to Elsa to find where her mother was taken. Finding her way to Victorian Italy, Elsa meerts a group of teenage "mad" scientists that excel in the fields of alchemy, mechanics and scriptology. Together they must work together to bring Elsa's mother to safety.

So this book sounded really intruguing and exciting but really it was just another typical (subpar) YA romance with a Steampunk disguise. I wanted to like it. Not going to lie, this was a rough read for me. I wanted to DNF this work several times and maybe I should have however, in the back of my mind I kept thinking that there must be something that makes this book stand out. To be fair this book stands out but for all the wrong reasons. When Elsa flees Veldana to find her mother, she eventually finds her way to Victorian Italy. Arriving at a sentient house that caters to "mad" scientists Elsa is surrounded by like minds. Slowly she befriends her new housemates and realizes that her best chance at rescuing Jumi (her mother) is to work together. Excelling in alchemy, mecahanics and scriptology, these particular group of teenagers are kept here for their safety. Great concept. This is the first that I have read that deals with Steampunk but the execution got muddled and quickly. The author aimed for diversity but most characters came off sounding the same. I can name no more than three and I just finished reading this book. Characterization was a serious downside to this work.

The prose was mediocre, at best. The insta love bothered me a great deal. These characters are not memorable nor is the plot. This is one of those situations where a lot happens but it does does help move the story along. This book had the potential to be so much more. The Steampunk element should have been refreshing and different, add another layer to this story. This book, however, ended up being boring and tedious. Keeping up with all the different elements became a chore. I am trying to come up with one redeeming aspect and that would be the concept of scriptology. That was a great idea, that and moving through portals to different worlds. It really is a shame it was not a well rendered concept. I know this is to be a duology but definitely will not be seeking the sequel. Needless to say, I did not like this book at all. Would not recommend.
Profile Image for Aila.
911 reviews32 followers
January 18, 2018
3.5 stars

I enjoyed Ink, Iron, and Glass! It comes off as a bit of a quieter historical fantasy, but it promises nonstop adventure and a cast of delightful characters that work together to pretty much save the world. The setting was pretty extraordinary: we’re looking at the Victorian era of Italy, around the late 1800’s, where Italian unification is taking place. While the book isn’t exactly historically accurate, it does follow some of the politics as the time and place it’s in. Elsa’s character was quite brilliant (despite some special snowflake abilities) as she navigates this new world and makes unexpected new friends.

Full review to come at Happy Indulgence
Profile Image for Kara.
539 reviews168 followers
February 8, 2018
I tried, you guys. I really did. Part of me still actually wants to attempt to finish this book because I read so much of it (176 pages) but I can't. If I'm not enjoying it by now, I just don't believe I ever will be.

So what went wrong? I just found this book boring, and the action was incredibly slow. There were brief scenes here and there where things picked up, like the train and the assassin, but they were so short and then there would be a whole lot of nothing and conversations that felt repetitive in between. The book just wasn't engaging me or maintaining my interest, and that's the main reason I'm quitting.

There are some good things though, and there are parts of this book I did like. The premise (using Scriptology to create new worlds) was absolutely brilliant and I'm almost shocked that no one has thought of that idea until now. What didn't work for me was the idea that you could either be a scriptologist, mechanist, or alchemist, and those were the only choices. It was limiting, and basically these are the only passions "mad" people an have. What about cooking, or painting, or gardening?

I liked the characters enough, though I did find them a bit flat, and though the author attempted diversity, these characters kind of all felt like the same person. I loved Skandar, Faraz's alchemical creation, but again, it would have been interesting to know how alchemy basically created an octopus with wings and one eye.

The writing was acceptable, with some absolutely gorgeous turns of phrase, especially at the beginning of the novel which is usually the weakest part of most books. But the writing wasn't enough to keep me going. There were just too many things that were either hard to believe, or just didn't make a whole lot of sense within the context of the world the author envisioned, and so, I am sadly calling it quits.
Profile Image for Shorouk A.
525 reviews62 followers
March 6, 2019
The world was very interesting .From the beginning, it was holding my attention.In the book,They went to Italy and I really wanted to read something set in Italy.I liked the parts of the four but I actually dreaded the parts about the adults. Luckily these were small parts. The ending though, I predicted something and was glad it didn't happen .

The characters seemed to be strong from the first mention.

Leo, he was the first character to hold my attention. He was very determined to find the truth. He kept secrets and helped. He was so sweet.His character was still very strong although he had already faced alot.I still like him

Elsa , I didn't know what I felt about her at first. She was strong and that was the obvious but I couldn't decide any other thing about her then . After a while, I really appreciated her . She lacked the knowledge of many things but still was very smart and useful.

Faraz, he was the second character for me that I liked so much . He wasn't mentioned alot in the first parts but from his tiny conversations, I liked him.All his deeds in the story were great . I liked even his little monster :).

Porzia, wow her character evolved from annoying to strong good character. I felt like she was a small mother.she was very faithful,too. I loved her.

Jumi,I think she was a perfect mother. She had a great wisdom .I liked all mentions of her.
Profile Image for Jelena Milenković.
431 reviews122 followers
March 1, 2018
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

I really enjoyed this action-packed XIXth century (PLUS IT’S MOSTLY SET IN ITALY, IN TUSCANY NO LESS 😍) steampunk book.
Admittedly, after reading that blurb, I expected something a little bit different, but this wasn’t bad either.
It’s just - we don’t get to see so much, we are introduced to bunch of new stuff and are still unsure of how exactly they work or anything.
Casa and that little tentacle monster - Skandar may be my favorites!

For the record - I doubted everyone and everything and I did not guessed the last plot twist before *that* “meeting” in the room (no spoilers here).
Profile Image for T.J. Burns.
Author 83 books44 followers
November 15, 2017
Wow! Yes! This is my kind of book! Intelligent, clever, creative, and action-packed story line; intriguing and diverse characters, who experience personal growth; interesting, clever, and at times witty dialogue; surprises and unexpected twists - everything I look for in a YA fantasy!

I received a copy of this book from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,360 reviews184 followers
March 1, 2019

This was an interesting combination of Sci-fi and historical fiction. I'm sad to say it took me like half the book to realize it was set in the past. For some reason, unknown to even me, I was convinced this was set in the future.

I really enjoyed Elsa's perspective and seeing her learn to use all of her gifts as a polymaths. I liked watching her puzzle out the mystery of her mother's disappearances and learning to trust the others from the Order of Archimedes. There was one scene from Leo's perspective that really bothered me. So Leo and Elsa are in danger and they must work together to save themselves and everyone else around them. Which they do, but Leo is then angry and upset that he's not as powerful or smart as Elsa and it really bothered me. He also made some sexist comments to himself about how he should be saving her and not the other way around that made me want to smack him.

The world of scriptology as a science was really well thought out and so fascinating that I pretty much tore through this book. I really loved all of the word-building that went into this and am excited to see where it will be taken to next.
Profile Image for Cindee.
782 reviews34 followers
February 13, 2021
This book was really mediocre and bland the characters were not really interesting at all the romance was shoehorned in and the twist was obvious and uninteresting. The characters were not that memorable and I found Elsa abrasive and Leo annoying and just not very well written. The plot started out interesting but after that point the idea was interesting but the execution was not very good. It starts out with the kidnapping of Elsa's mother and of course Elsa goes looking for her the story just gets really dull after that. So overall this book was meh and I am not interested at all in continuing the series.
Profile Image for L. McCoy.
Author 4 books2,968 followers
July 10, 2019
This could have been so much better.
The story is interesting, unique and unpredictable. Unfortunately it takes forever (to the point I’m yelling at it to move on), it’s so slow and boring, I didn’t give a shit about any of the characters. With all that it fails to grip me even though it should. If that wasn’t enough there’s even a notable dash of hypocritical sexism (though I sadly expect that in YA at this point). If you do bother with this book the audio edition has a good narrator and the ending is a good “to be continued in book 2” sort of ending but not enough to make me want to listen to or read book 2. I wouldn’t recommend this.

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