The Ink of Elspet is the first book in The Inkwell Chronicles and it starts the series brilliantly. Not only does the book look good and feel good, as soon as you start reading chapter one, but you’re also hooked. Everett and his younger sister Bea live in an old vicarage with their dad and a grumpy housekeeper. The father is the author of a wonderful comic series, which Everett is fond of. Their reasonably calm lives are thrown upside down when there is a mysterious train crash and their father is missing, presumed dead. Except for Bea, who is sure that her father is still alive.
J.D. Peabody, the author, has done a fantastic job in setting the scene and taking you on the journey the children have to make. The ink is special and as the children discover during their journey, all kinds of things can happen if you have ink. Meeting the Inklings was fabulous and their explanation of the need for ink was wonderful. I loved how faith was subtly woven into the story.
The Ink of Elspet has some great characters and it’s hard to decide who my favourite was. I loved little Bea, sweet and innocent, and felt for Everett and his struggles. The conductor is definitely near the top of my favourites although, in a roundabout way, the villainous Blotters have great personalities too. Just the name in itself, Blotters, made me smile. And the story of how they came to exist, well, no spoilers, but it was an interesting explanation, to say the least.
Moving from one set of characters to the next is done seamlessly in The Ink of Elspet. The story moves quite fast, and some of the chapters are very short, so it feels like you’re getting a quick update on what is going on with the other characters. The main storyline stays intact but is affected by the others around it. This is done well, and it explains what happens next to the main thread of the book. It also helps you to anticipate what might happen next.
The Ink of Elspet includes a map, which helps later on in the book as well as adds to the great looks. It is just beautifully produced. I do love hardbacks they feel special. The time setting of the book isn’t totally clear to me, which says more about me and my lack of knowledge about certain characters than it does about Mr Peabody. The writer has added hints about the time setting, making clear it is soon after the War. I love fountain pens, and the description of some of the special pens was making me want another real fountain pen…
The ending of The Ink of Elspet was hard to bear, as it’s clear another adventure is about to start… So what do I do now?! Haha, I love writing cliffhangers, but reading them is a totally different matter. A universal rule should come in to ban cliffhangers at the end of wonderful books… I now keep wondering what adventure Everett and Bea will go on, whether Trey will be there, who else is going to be involved, and whether the Inklings will be there. Hopefully, the next volume will hit the shelves soon…?
I received a free copy via Hodder Faith but was under no pressure or obligation to write a favourable review.