ARC Review: Blood, Ink, & Fire by Ashley Mansour

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Imagine a world without books…
In the future, books are a distant memory. The written word has been replaced by an ever-present stream of images known as Verity. In the controlling dominion of the United Vales of Fell, reading is obsolete and forbidden, and readers themselves do not—cannot—exist.
But where others see images in the stream, teenager Noelle Hartley sees words. She’s obsessed with what they mean, where they came from, and why they found her.

Noelle’s been keeping her dangerous fixation with words a secret, but on the night before her seventeenth birthday, a rare interruption in the stream leads her to a mysterious volume linked to an underworld of rebel book lovers known as the Nine of the Rising. With the help of the Risers and the beguiling boy Ledger, Noelle discovers that the words within her are precious clues to the books of the earlier time—and as a child of their bookless age, she might be the world’s last hope of bringing them back.


***Thank You To Netgalley & Upturn Publishing For Giving Me This ARC In Exchange For An Honest Review***

So I’m just going to get this off of my chest right away: this book was pretty awful. I hated it and while I was reading it I wanted to just DNF it.

I skimmed the last 20% of the book because I was so bored, but I told myself I’d rather skim than not know how it ends at all.

Without further ado let’s begin this review.


One of the best things about this book was the premise, a world without books. Sounds awesome right? That was honestly the only interesting part about the entire book, the setting. This is a dystopian setting where there are no longer books or any form of the written word and no reading. Period. That’s what kept me reading, but that’s the only reason I kept reading.

Right when the story begins you’re thrust into this world state without having anything explained at all. It’s really frustrating right away since all of these terms and futuristic items are forced on me and I have no idea what they are!

Then things finally start getting explained a little which is great, right? Wrong, stuff did get explained but it was just a ton of info-dumping. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of information, so it really didn’t help. I still had to figure most things out on my own, which is frustrating.

The plot also progresses at a very weird pacing, it would drag on terribly during some parts but then all of a sudden it got way too rushed! I had to look back a few pages just to see if I was reading it correctly!

For example: The main character and her “group” would take several chapters to reach a certain city/town but then when somebody in the group gets hurt they magically transport themselves all they way back to where they STARTED in just a sentence or two.

How convenient is that? That was another problem with the book that I had, how conveniently things would happen to advance the plot. Like “Oh we got thrown into a dungeon but hey the guy we needed to talk to is down here too with the item we’ve been looking for!” How convenient for you. It was completely unrealistic, if you want to convince me that the plot points  happening are legit then you need to do a better job of making it believable.

And that ending! It made no sense and was confusing as hell. Seriously my brain doesn’t comprehend that ending at all. Is there going to be a sequel? Is this a stand alone and that was truly the end? Who knows? Not me apparently.

Then there’s that dreadful romance. I’m not a big fan of romances in books but if they’re done right I will like or even love them. This is a prime example of how to make me hate a book romance. One word: Insta-love. There was so much insta-love in this book it made me want to gag.

Except these are people and not dogs so it wasn’t cute, just extremely annoying. That picture sums it up perfectly too. I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes whenever a “romantic scene” came up, it made me want to hurl my Kindle across the room. There’s just no way I’m going to believe that they will die for each other after a day, no way.


Where do I even start with these characters? I didn’t like any of them really, at all. Every single character lacked depth and they were very flat and uninteresting. I felt like they were made out of cardboard. To me, reading their dialogue was like hearing robots talk to each other. I didn’t feel anything towards them.

Not to mention how wishy-washy they were. One minute they’re all brave and loyal and the next they’re crying and whining. They were incredibly inconsistent.

Noelle Hartley is our main character and I haven’t a single good thing to say about her. She’s not only a special snowflake but she’s also extremely selfish. She was willing to give up the things necessary to save her world (country? planet? I don’t know what it actually is because it was never explained!) to save her loved ones. That’s selfish! Yes you love your family/friends but you didn’t even think about the thousands of other people that will suffer because of your poor choices!

I also feel like every other character’s intelligence was lowered in order to make Noelle seem smarter. I will provide the best example I can think of.

This Example Will Be Two Parts:

Part 1

“Eight from the ground, six from the corner. Listen to me very carefully,” Goodfellow whispers. “After they come for me, retrieve the book from behind the cylinder block. Eight and six. Remember eight and six.”

Which then leads to this.

Part 2

“Eight and six,” Ros says. “What do you think he meant?”

“The bricks,” I say. “We need to hurry.” I count from the corner where I found the matches. “Eight up and six across.”

I thought that it was blatantly obvious that Goodfellow was referring to the bricks, but apparently not. See how Ros has to ask what he meant even though it’s so clear, just so Noelle could be “so smart” and figure it out? Yeah, that annoyed me a lot.

Then as I said she’s a special snowflake. If Noelle doesn’t save the world then apparently no one can or will. If I had to rely on this girl to save me I’d just pack it in right then and there because there’s no way that’s happening!

Then there’s Ledger. He is never explained, I STILL don’t know who or what the heck he is! He’s just there to once again be a convenient plot progressor! He’s a major character and I didn’t understand him at all, if that’s not frustrating I don’t know what is.

in conclusion

I really just thought this whole book was a mess, the blurb and idea of the plot was interesting enough but everything else was very disappointing. I struggled to finish this and I honestly don’t know why I even bothered to since the ending was so confusing.


No, not at all. I can’t see myself recommending this to anyone for any reasons. Period.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy