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Writer Of Wrongs

The main character of Gwendolyn Clare’s Ink, Iron, and Glass might be The Special, but her gift for writing worlds into existence is pretty darn enviable.

Writer Of Wrongs

BOOK REPORT for Ink, Iron, and Glass (Ink, Iron, and Glass #1) by Gwendolyn Clare

Cover Story: Rorschach Test
BFF Charm: Maybe
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Magic, but Missing
Bonus Factors: Diversity, Smart Kids
Factor: Series Starter
Anti-Bonus Factor: The Special
Relationship Status: Probably Better as Friends

Cover Story: Rorschach Test

This cover feels a bit lazy. I like the title treatment, and the use of the “materials” for the various words, but I also feel like they could be examples of early photoshop tutorials. Add to that the majority of the ink blob behind the title being really heavy, and distracting the eye from the lighter, prettier illustrated bits at the top, and it all turns into a jumble.

The Deal:

Elsa isn’t from Earth, at least, not exactly. She, her mother, and their world, were created by a scriptologist, or a person with the ability to write worlds into existence. Through a twist of fate, Elsa’s mother has the gift, and has passed it on to her daughter as well. Both of the women are supremely talented, but content to live out their days editing and improving their own world, rather than mess with the “real” one.

But then Elsa’s mother is kidnapped, and Elsa must venture to Earth, where people like her are misunderstood and sometimes forced to use their powers for evil. Together with a group of other gifted kids, Elsa works to find her mother before it’s too late—for her, and their world.

BFF Charm: Maybe

Elsa’s a solitary girl, with little interest in (or experience with) actual friends. Her “oldest friend” in Veldana is a friend mostly because they’re two of the few people in the world who are the same age, and they haven’t really been cordial in some time. When faced with meeting people on Earth, Elsa definitely struggles with niceties. She grows, and begins to see the benefit of working together and having people who will stand up for her, but it’s a slow process. I think, given her abilities (more on that in a bit), she’d be awesome to hang around with, but I’m not sure we’d hit it off to start, and I’m pretty positive that she wouldn’t want to put forth the effort to get to know me past that initial meeting, since I don’t have any talents that might be useful to her quest.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Elsa’s long been told by her mother that relationships of the romantic kind are a distraction and not worth it. But most young people can’t resist their hormones, which often leads to ignoring the head and going with the heart. It’s just unfortunate, in Elsa’s case, that she’s only ever met one other guy her age before becoming interested in someone. It seems … convenient.

Talky Talk: Magic, but Missing

Readers are thrown right into the world of Ink, Iron, and Glass—a world set, for the most part, in 1890s Italy, and one that is much different than ours, at least in the sense of magical gifts being real and somewhat common. Scriptologists, like Elsa and her mother, can literally write worlds into being with ink and paper, and the worlds don’t always have to follow the laws of Earth reality.

Alchemists also exist, and can create potions, creatures and other semi-magical things with chemicals and elements. (The third “gift” people in the world have isn’t exactly magical as it is advanced for the 1890s: the affinity for mechanics, which is, essentially, steampunk.) I like the idea of all of these skills, but Clare never really set the rules for scriptologists, and it was hard to buy into without the proper amount of background.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Elsa’s dark skinned with dark hair, and one of her Earth friends is Tunisian. The two of them often stand out in 1890s Italy, especially when compared with the other two friends, one of whom is blond. It’s not really a plot point, but Clare does mention it, and I appreciate that she didn’t take the easy route and base her Elsa on a more famous one.

Bonus Factor: Smart Kids

Sure, they have what amount to superpowers, but Elsa and the friends she makes on Earth are supremely smart people. And, with their powers combined, they come up with brilliant plans. These kids are going places.

Factor: Series Starter

So it’s not a series—it’s a duology—and the ending of Ink, Iron, and Glass isn’t a terrible cliffhanger, but know going in that very little is resolved by the last pages.

Anti-Bonus Factor: The Special

The trope of “I’m just a normal person, but—haha—I’m actually a princess, or a demi-god, or a super powerful witch, SURPRISE” runs rampant through YA, particularly fantasy books. Sometimes it can be a good thing, or used in a way that is actually surprising and not at all eye-rolly. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which category Elsa falls into.

Relationship Status: Probably Better as Friends

Although we had a nice time together, Book, I didn’t feel the chemistry I was hoping for. Will it be there the next time we get together? I’m willing to take the chance, but won’t be surprised if we part as friends.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Macmillan/Imprint, and got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Ink, Iron, and Glass is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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