Words have power—and in an alternate version of Earth, they can create worlds. Certain people, known as scriptologists, are able to write worlds into reality. One of three branches of magic, scriptology is a finite and dangerous science which can easily be done wrong. And one worldbook holds a dangerous power, one which many people are desperate to use.
Elsa is from Veldana, the first—and only—populated scribed world. Her mother, Jumi, is a Veldanese scriptologist who is constantly expanding their still-new world. Perhaps Veldana’s age, and its small size, is why it is still uncomplicated by war or countries or technology.
But when Jumi is kidnapped, Elsa’s world falls apart. She escapes to Earth just before Veldana’s worldbook is burned, and without it, she knows her home is gone. Now, her hope is simply to find—and, potentially, save—her mother, who she is certain is somewhere on Earth. Yet even that may be more dangerous than she anticipates. For she is also a prize to her enemies.
With the help of a group of new friends—including Leo, a boy whose past is dark and whose future is closely tied to Elsa’s mission—she searches for the truth about her mother’s kidnappers, and a book she scribed before her disappearance. A book her kidnappers are desperate to find.
Ink, Iron and Glass was one of those books I picked up off a library shelf, and completely engrossed me. Gwendolyn Clare’s version of a magical Victorian Italy, and her depictions of the scribed worlds, are some of the best fantasy settings I’ve read in a while, reminiscent of The Glass Sentence and The Golden Compass. The magic is interesting and unique, fitting effortlessly into the atmosphere of this book. Elsa and the supporting characters are all extremely deep and distinct, with no two quite alike, all with their own personalities which bounce off of each other beautifully. And the story itself is unpredictable and engaging. This book is one of the best I’ve read this year, and I think it would appeal to readers who loved the theme of writing in Inkheart and Finding Serendipity, but are now looking for something a little older; that said, Ink, Iron and Glass is a great novel for anyone who loves fantasy. To lovers of brilliant worlds and deep characters ages eleven and up, I highly recommend Ink, Iron and Glass.