Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine – Review

Cover- Paper and Fire

Published: July 5, 2016

Publisher: NAL

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: The Great Library #2

Pages: 354 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Let the world burn.

With an iron fist, the Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion and, in the name of the greater good, forbidding the personal ownership of books.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower, doomed to a life apart from everything she knows.

After embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, and the Library, which is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…


Paper and Fire was just as good, if not a little better than the first installment in Caine’s The Great Library series. No sophomore slump here! For anyone skeptical about the awesomeness of a book about a library, no need to fear. This series has been absolutely action packed- gunfights, prison breaks, terrifying encounters with automata… it’s pretty much got everything you could want.

Paper and Fire picks up not long after the events of Ink and Bone, though skips the majority of Jess’s training in the High Garda thus preventing it from sounding like a repeat of the first book. We get just enough to see what his training is like and he moves on from there. Similarly, we don’t get a detailed description of what the other characters have been filling their time with either. We know Khalila and Dario are scholars, Glain is also in Garda training, Morgan is locked away in the Iron Tower, and Thomas… well, we think we know what happened to him.

Our characters are still very much enamored with the idea of taking down the Library as it is and making it into what it was intended to be –  a bastion of knowledge. The Library censors information deemed too dangerous, which has caused countless inventions and inventors to disappear (much like Thomas), and values knowledge above the lives of people. These flaws have left a sour taste in the mouth of some of those affiliated with the Library, but the vast majority wish to carry on with their lives and steady careers without looking too closely at the rot creeping in. A discovery about their missing friend Thomas suddenly kicks the group into action and everything gets crazy from thereon out.

As I expected, the writing of both dialogue and action was top-notch and I thought the characters showed suitable amounts of growth. Jess seems to have remained the most static and continues to have heroic amounts of good luck and his criminal skills come in handy on more than one occasion. I expect that Ash and Quill (released July 11 2017) will be a laudable installment in the series, though I’ve heard rumor that it has been extended from a trilogy to a 5 book series. I dearly hope that the story doesn’t devolve into something absurd and unrecognizable by the end.

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4 thoughts on “Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine – Review

  1. Yes, the trilogy has been extended to 5 books. I’m really not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, a series that ends up needing more books is not always a good thing. On the other, yay, more Rachel Caine and The Great Library! I guess I’ll reserve judgement until I finish the third one!

    Liked by 1 person

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