Book Review: BLOOD, INK, & FIRE by Ashley Mansour

Blood, Ink, & Fire series by Ashley Mansour has a rough start with book one

***This e-book of Blood, Ink, & Fire was given to me by NetGalley for an honest review***

This is not the first book I’ve read this year where having a book was a crime. There’s a certain appeal to reading a story that pretty much makes the reader relate to it quite easily. So, it wasn’t hard to get myself to read Blood, Ink, & Fire.

Blood, Ink, & Fire cover Blood, Ink, & Fire is the debut novel of author Ashley Mansour. I’m sure a new author’s first book release can be nerve-racking, so I’ll try to be as honest as I can while being tactful about it.

The book gets off to a nice start. The prologue gives us some idea of what’s happened to the world, although it may be a bit disorienting, especially with the names of the characters involved, but there’s a reason for that, and you get to know about those people throughout the book.

Then we meet Noelle. It’s the day before she goes through a life-changing process. It’s supposed to be a good thing, to help her integrate better with her society, the United Vale of Fell. But after meeting with her best friend, John, and uttering phrases around her parents and grandfather which show she can read, we find that she’s in danger. Reading is illegal. In fact, she shouldn’t be able to read since she’s never been taught to do so, and no words are allowed visible anywhere in Fell.

After she’s found out by Vale’s big-brother (or maybe big-sister) online interactive and integrative system, she knows that something’s wrong and she has to leave Fell to see her best friend, who lives outside of Fell’s society.

From that point on, she goes on a dangerous journey that takes her to not only to John’s Sovereign society, but the rest of the Sovereigns outside of Fell. And she has to do so while escaping the hands of Fell’s security, including one insistent soldier named Scythe.

I found the premise to be intriguing and while I read the whole book, I couldn’t say that I felt really wrapped into it. There were some exciting parts and some decent characterization of those that she meets through her journey. Noelle’s journey takes to her meet some of the people that we read about in the Prologue and interspersed throughout. Each Sovereign we visit brings about a new challenge as they definitely do not run the same way.

One thing to mention is that Noelle is not on this journey alone. Her traveling companion, Ledger, has a major part to play in her purpose in traveling to these different Sovereigns. They find their connection to each other hard to maintain a strictly platonic relationship as their attraction to one another grows stronger.

Now, as interesting as the story was in some parts, other parts didn’t feel as put together. Basically, the pacing felt very rocky, much like the roads outside of Fell.  There were many times that the story, especially with her traveling from one place to another, didn’t segue as well as it could have.

As far as the characters go, I think the only one that I really want to get to know more of was Ledger. Noelle being the main character was very frustrating at times because there were times I thought she understood her role in all of what was going on around her, but then she’d revert back to denying it. It was annoying, quite frankly. Thus Ledger, who we could only get a few chapters from his perspective, was the one I wanted more of.

The different Sovereign societies were interesting in that they dealt with being outside of Fell in their own ways.  The goal of getting a certain series of books (kind of like trying to find the Horcruxes in Harry Potter in the Deathly Hallows) made was supposed to feel vastly important, and I don’t know if I really felt the real importance of them, even knowing what books they were.

I have to admit, there were some emotional moments in the book that I’d want to explore more between the characters, so there’s that.  But I’m not sure if there will be a book two as there’s no word on if this is going to actually be a series.

All in all, although Blood, Ink, & Fire has some interesting motives and potential, I think the writing needs more work to give the rest of the series (if there will be a series) more fluidity and better pacing. At times, it felt like the author was trying to pull words from too many other popular YA books to get the same feel, but somewhat missed the target.

My Grade: C 

By Molly

Molly is a proud Canadian who is currently attending university in Scotland. She loves to read, write, watch films, and talk about Sarah J. Maas books. If not snuggled up with a book, Molly can usually be found tapping at the dance studio, or writing yet another essay.

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