Ink Blood Sister Scribe is a contemporary fantasy novel that treads some well-worn tropes and plot structures that make it rather predictable, but because of the execution, still very enjoyable. If you haven’t spent your life reading fantasy books, you probably won’t think this was as predictable as I did, so in that way it might be a good intro to fantasy book, particularly since it’s set in our world. But there really is enough here to interest regular fantasy readers as well (unless you’re the kind of fantasy reader that only likes young farmer-type dudes out to save the world from the Dark Lord or whatever—there will be too many women and queer people in this for you).
We have three main characters here: Esther and Joanna, half-sisters who share the same father, and Nicholas, a sheltered young man raised in a magical library by his uncle. Esther left home at age eighteen and hasn’t stopped moving in ten years, and Joanna hurt by her sister’s actions, has stayed at home with the magical books she and her father have cared for her entire life. Now he’s died, and Joanna is on her own. Then there’s Nicholas, who we meet only to realize there’s something important enough about him that he’s kept hidden away on the library’s estate, and that people want to kill or possess him. These three people are mixed up together in the same thing in various ways, and by the end of the book their paths will cross. And all of their pasts and presents are mixed up with these magical books, the thing Joanna and Esther’s father died for.
This was a bit slow to start for me. I liked it, but it didn’t really hook me until Nicholas was introduced, and with him, the main conflict of the story. But once I was hooked, I finished this really fast, like in a day (after having spent three days on the first 75 pages). This isn’t getting five stars from me, because of the abovementioned predictability, but also because ‘Sister’ is right there in the title, and I thought that aspect of the book was the most underdeveloped. It felt more like parent/child relationships were overall more important to the themes of the book. I will definitely be reading more from this author, because I like her style, and I liked the characters she created (Collins!). I feel like she could have a Really Great Book inside of her waiting to come out. But in the mean time, you could certainly check this book out and have a good time with something that is slightly flawed and a bit overdone, but full of love.
Lastly, I do want to lodge an official complaint with the authorities that we never find out what they named the cat.