Book Review: Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs

Ink Blood Sister Scribe
Emma Törzs
Hardcover / Ebook
ISBN: 9780063253469
William Morrow, May 2023, 416 pgs

Emma Törzs’ debut novel, Ink Blood Sister Scribe, is a mysterious tale of familial memories and secrets that grip and hold. Two estranged sisters, Ester and Joanna Kalotay, reunite after their father’s death to reckon with the family obsession—protecting and collecting rare books of magic and spells. Törzs carries the reader along with her telescopic descriptions and heartwarming character relationships.

As people read this book, they may feel the urge to choose favorites between the two half-sisters. They are both exciting, and it’s absolutely touching how they both care for the people they hold close. Joanna has lived in her warded-protected home her whole life and followed in her father’s footsteps collecting, using, and protecting books of magic from those who wish to use them to harm. Ester is immune to magic but isn’t untouchable from the pain of the past; she is constantly moving in a race to stay one step ahead of the danger that’s already claimed her mother’s life. Ultimately, readers who will try to choose between the sisters will find it impossible not to love them both as the two heal and fight together.

There are many alluring elements in Ink Blood Sister Scribe, but the books of magic were my other favorite. Fellow book lovers will undoubtedly feel the same. Certain ancient and rare books in the novel are unique; some hum and buzz, some give people the power to speak through mirrors, or float, or even kill. Joanna and Ester must research and explore these books of magic to solve their father’s death, Ester’s mother’s murder, and stop who or what is threatening them. It’s all very Practical Magic in a way that felt comforting to read.

There is such a tight knot of mystery at the center of all the bonding, queer love, familial reconciliations, and death. I felt it pushing me through the novel but never rushing me. Törzs’ eye for the ephemera that makes up her characters’ lives and homes is hard to look away from. Memories and the past loom heavy in Ink Blood Sister Scribe, but not in a way that weighs a reader down. Törzs’ prose is evocative and compelling, creating a masterful literary fantasy of magic, family, and books.

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