Jess comes from a family of book smugglers. As he grows older his father realizes that he’s not going to be fit to inherit the family business. Instead, he has an idea. Why not send Jess to study at the library? That way they can have an “inside man”. So Jess is sent to Alexandria to compete with some of the world’s best and brightest for one of six spots with the library. As he tries to keep his family’s background a secret, Jess will learn things about his fellow Postulants and the library that he may wish he’d never discovered.
I’m just going to say it: this book was way better than I thought it was going to be. There was a lot of action and a great cast of characters. I liked reading from Jess’s perspective because he has this conflict going on the whole time. He’s fascinated by the library and he’s kind of falling in love with it, but he also doesn’t want to disappoint or betray his family. And as time goes on there are other people he doesn’t want to disappoint or betray either. It really puts him in a hard position, but Caine does a great job of helping the reader to understand how Jess is feeling and his reactions all seem pretty reasonable.
This alternate future is seriously CRAZY. It’s a little steampunk and a little dystopian and in this world, being a librarian is really something completely different than it is in our world. There were enough familiar things about this world that the author was really able to build it and have the reader understand without having to infodump or anything like that–which I appreciated. The alchemy that’s woven throughout the story feels very natural and I’m really interested to learn more about it in the next book.
Overall, this book was super action-packed and I think the storyline is very intriguing–I’m not sure where the next book is going to take it. There are characters who you will love and characters who you will kind of hate but in the end, they’re all memorable. This is definitely one that I would recommend.
Overall Rating: 4
Violence: Heavy, some gore described but not explicit
Sexual Content: Mild
Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.