Review: Blood and Ink by Stephen Davies

Image from Goodreads
Author: Stephen Davies
Publisher: Anderson Press
Publication Date: 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads
Kadija is the music-loving daughter of a guardian of the sacred manuscripts of the ancient city of Timbuktu, Mali.
Ali is a former shepherd boy, trained as a warrior for Allah.
Tonight, the Islamist rebels are coming for Timbuktu. They will install a harsh regime of law and tear apart the peaceful world within the mud walls of the city. Television, football, radios, even music, will be banned.
Kadija refuses to let go of her former life. And something in her defiance draws Ali to her.
Which path will he choose?
REVIEW BY JACK 10:6
Blood and Ink is hard to classify. It is very much in the style of historical fiction, but describes events from just 2012. Also there are elements of war, romance, adventure and even theology. Blood and Ink charts the relationship between Ali, a soldier with an Islamic extremist organisation attacking Timbuktu; and Kadija, the daughter of a moderate Muslim who is a guardian of local religious texts in the ancient city.
Ali was drawn from his remote village by Redbeard’s (a real terrorist) fervour and promises of glory. On the other side of the besieged city’s walls Kadija and her father are working to save their traditional religious texts. The contrast between these two lives is perfectly captured in the excellent title, Blood & Ink. The insight into jihadism offered by this book makes it an educational resource as much as anything else.
Kadija’s father is my favourite character because he is brave but not rash, planning every move and being consistently loyal to his family and religion. The best part of the story is, in my opinion, the old-fashioned adventure section where Kadiji evades the authorities as she attempts to smuggle the precious writings to safety. As Ali chases after her with an uncertain mixture of motives, the tale gathers pace.
This is a very good book with which it was really hard to find any problems at all. Within the wider storyline, an ending or epilogue featuring Redbeard might have been an improvement, but he is a real person, and I entirely understand and agree with the historical accuracy reasons for not doing this.
I really enjoyed this book and I am going to look for other books by the author to read.
I give Blood and Ink 5/5 stars.
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