Review – Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare


Title Ink, Iron, and Glass

Author Gwendolyn Clare

Description from Amazon

Can she write a world gone wrong?

A certain pen, a certain book, and a certain person can craft entirely new worlds through a branch of science called scriptology. Elsa comes from one such world that was written into creation, where her mother—a noted scriptologist—constantly alters and expands their reality.

But when her home is attacked and her mother kidnapped, Elsa is forced to cross into the real world and use her own scriptology gifts to find her. In an alternative Victorian Italy, Elsa finds a secret society of young scientists with a gift for mechanics, alchemy, or scriptology—and meets Leo, a gorgeous mechanist with a smart mouth and tragic past. She recruits the help of these fellow geniuses just as an assassin arrives on their doorstep.

Initial Thoughts

This book sounded so amazing.  I absolutely loved the idea of scriptologists who would write worlds that came to life.  It’s basically my dream.  I also loved the setting.  I haven’t read many books set in Italy so this was a really cool change of pace.

Favorite Part

The magic system.  I love the three disciplines, alchemist, scriptologist, and mechanist.  I thought it was a really interesting way to represent a time in history where great changes were going on in the fields of science, technology, and literature.  Normally, when I read a novel with some kind of magic, I resonate with one variety.  But this story, I wanted to have all three kinds of “madness” as the story called it.  I can see the value in each discipline and thought the characters who represented them were so well-balanced.  One was not obviously better than either of the others, mirroring that of the real world.

Historical References

I also really enjoyed the historical references to real events and people.  I don’t know much about Italian Unification, but I thought it was an interesting idea to vilify the man who championed that cause.  It gave me a chance to brush up on my Italian history.

Something I Wasn’t Crazy About

Jumi, Elsa’s mother.  I like the idea that Elsa was raised by a strong, independent woman who didn’t need a man to help her.  However, the kidnapping plot and Jumi’s illness seemed like overkill.  Just knowing that Jumi existed would have been enough to demonstrate how Elsa became the person that she is.

Furthermore, I think it speaks to lack of judgement on Elsa’s part that she was willing to trade the fate of the known world for a chance to see her mother.  I expected more from her.  I wanted her to outsmart her foes and rescue Jumi.  I thought the kidnapping weakened Elsa’s storyline.

Final Thoughts

I loved the premise of this book.  I was not crazy about being left on a cliffhanger at the end of this book.  Luckily, I read it only days before the second volume, Mist, Metal, and Ash came out so I didn’t have to wait long for the story to resolve.  That being said, I would read a hundred more books about this world.  It was unique, fascinating, and made me so jealous that I don’t have the madness.


Recommendations for Further Reading

  • Mist, Metal, and Ash by Gwendolyn Clare – this is a direct sequel to Ink, Iron, and Glass so it’s a must read.
  • Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Antsey – not a fantasy but hear me out.  Both stories are about lady scientists, set in nineteenth century Europe, and have female leads who defy the conventional standards of being a lady at the time.
  • An Affair of Poisions by Addie Thorley – this is another semi-historical fiction story with real events and characters sprinkled with magic and fantasy.  Also, it features romance and a female lead who thinks she doesn’t need anyone’s help.


Ink, Iron, and Glass on Goodreads

Buy Ink, Iron, and Glass on Amazon

2 thoughts on “Review – Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare

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