I've had a Net Galley copy of Ash and Quill, the third book in the YA Great Library series by Rachel Caine for some time, and now I've been approved by the publisher for the fourth book, Smoke and Iron. I really apologize. I should have gotten to it sooner. I'm trying to read more Net Galleys this year.
This alternate history dystopian series is fascinating to me conceptually. I've reviewed Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire on this blog at the locations I've hyperlinked.
The focus of Ash and Quill is the implementation of a pivotal forbidden technology in Philadelphia which is a Burner city opposed to the Great Library. The Burners of this alternate America are trying to evade control by the authoritarians in charge of the Great Library, but leaders of movements that oppose established institutions may also want to consolidate their own power. We have seen this in our timeline over and over. The comedian W.C. Fields famously stated a mordant preference for being in Philadelphia. I assure you that there are no circumstances in which he'd rather be in this Philadelphia.
I've seen Khalila, the Islamic hijabi character, mentioned approvingly in reviews. Khalila is one of the small group of rebels who are the heroes of this series. She is one of my favorites too, but I wondered why she is portrayed as standing for prayer at one point in Ash and Quill. I've usually seen Muslim prayer in the prostration position with the forehead touching the ground. As a result of a search for this review, I now know that there is a sequence of Islamic prayer postures that apparently usually begins with a calming and centering period of standing. See this article on islamreligion.com . So I learned a bit more about Islam due to having read this book.
I enjoyed savoring a few morsels of Burner history. Benjamin Franklin was a Burner in the Great Library timeline. For those who know Benjamin Franklin's history as an inventor in our universe, there is a moment of supreme irony in this book that I appreciated. The inclusion of Benjamin Franklin caused me to wonder about other historical figures in the context of the Great Library and Burners. I'd like to see how they fared in Rachel Caine's universe.
Ash and Quill does end on a dramatic cliffhanger, but fortunately I have an ARC of the sequel ready to go on my e-reader. So our heroes needn't be left dangling for long. I hope to review Smoke and Iron relatively soon.