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Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs

Ink Blood Sister Scribe


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Emma Törzs, on your first book!

by Emma Törzs

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Quick take

In this epic adventure, two estranged sisters bear the weighty responsibility to protect their magical family library.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_BookAboutBooks

    Book about books


For generations, the Kalotay family has guarded a collection of ancient and rare books. Books that let a person walk through walls or manipulate the elements—books of magic that half-sisters Joanna and Esther have been raised to revere and protect.

All magic comes with a price, though, and for years the sisters have been separated. Esther has fled to a remote base in Antarctica to escape the fate that killed her own mother, and Joanna’s isolated herself in their family home in Vermont, devoting her life to the study of these cherished volumes. But after their father dies suddenly while reading a book Joanna has never seen before, the sisters must reunite to preserve their family legacy. In the process, they’ll uncover a world of magic far bigger and more dangerous than they ever imagined, and all the secrets their parents kept hidden; secrets that span centuries, continents, and even other libraries . . .

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Ink Blood Sister Scribe.
Ink Blood Sister Scribe

Abe Kalotay died in his front yard in late February, beneath a sky so pale it seemed infected. There was a wintery wet snowbite to the still air and the sprawled-open pages of the book at his side had grown slightly damp by the time his daughter Joanna came home and found his body lying in the grass by their long dirt driveway.

Abe was on his back, eyes half-opened to that gray sky, mouth slack and his tongue drying blue, one of his hands with its quick-bitten nails draped across his stomach. The other hand was resting on the book, forefinger still pressed to the page as if holding his place. A last smudge of vivid red was slowly fading into the paper and Abe himself was mushroom-white and oddly shriveled. It was an image Joanna already knew she’d have to fight against forever, to keep it from supplanting the twenty-four years’ worth of living memories that had, in the space of seconds, become more precious to her than anything else in the world. She didn’t make a sound when she saw him, only sank to her knees, and began to shake.

Later, she would think he’d probably come outside because he’d realized what the book was doing and had been struggling to reach the road before he bled out; either to flag down a passing driver to call an ambulance, or to spare Joanna from having to heave his body into the bed of her truck and take him up their driveway and past the boundaries of their wards. But at the time she didn’t question why he was outside.

She only questioned why he’d brought a book along with him.

She had not yet understood that it was the book itself that had killed him; she only understood that its presence was a rupture in one of his cardinal rules, a rule Joanna herself had not yet dreamed of breaking—though she would, eventually. But even more inconceivable than her father letting a book outside the safety of their home was the fact that it was a book Joanna did not recognize. She had spent her entire life caring for their collection and knew every book within it as intimately as one would know a family member, yet the one lying at her father’s side was completely unfamiliar in both appearance and in sound. Their other books hummed like summer bees. This book throbbed like unspent thunder and when she opened the cover the handwritten words swam in front of her eyes, rearranging themselves every time a letter nearly became clear. In progress; unreadable.

The note Abe had tucked between the pages was perfectly legible, however, despite the shakiness of the hand. He’d used his left. His right had been fixed in place as the book drank.

Joanna, he had written. I’m sorry. Don’t let your mother in. Keep this book safe and away from your blood. I love you so much. Tell Esther

It ended there, without punctuation. Joanna would never know if he’d meant to write more or if he only wanted her to pass on a final message of love to the daughter he hadn’t seen in years. But kneeling there on the cold dirt, with the book in her hands, she didn’t have the wherewithal to think about any of this yet.

She could only stare at Abe’s lifeless body, try to breathe, and prepare herself for the next steps.

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Why I love it

Every word of Ink Blood Sister Scribe had my full attention, and not just because it’s beautifully written. It captured my imagination in a way that few novels can. The experience of reading it felt like a long walk down a secret passageway (of which there is at least one in the book itself). Or rather, three passageways, one for each of our main characters who don’t yet realize how intertwined their fates are.

Esther, Joanna, and Nicholas each grew up surrounded by magic spell books. Esther and Joanna’s father died clutching one in his arms. After his untimely death, Joanna took it upon herself to protect her family’s collection in his stead while Esther ran away to pursue freedom, often at the expense of her own safety. Nicholas, on the other hand, has never known freedom. As purportedly the only Scribe in existence, he has been kept under lock and key since he was a child, writing spells for rich patrons under the watchful eye of his uncle.

A nameless threat surrounds them all. One that would kill to get its hands on the spell books and their authors. Esther can run, and Joanna and Nicholas can continue to hide, but none of them are truly safe so long as this magic exists. I can already tell that Ink Blood Sister Scribe is a book I’ll be recommending for years to come. Consider yourself the lucky first of many.

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Member ratings (15,991)

  • Megan B.

    Keeseville, NY

    ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! This story had me hooked from start to finish. It had action, family drama, mystery, everything! If you’re wanting a magical world that you can get lost in, this is it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Christine C.

    Manteca, CA

    LOVED this despite it not being my usual genre. Honestly could’ve read another 500 pages of it. I wish it was a series. I was hooked instantly by the rich world and real characters. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Kendra W.

    Carrollton, GA

    Magical. I devoured this book, and when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about the story. The twists and turns kept the suspense weaving beautifully throughout. LOVED this one. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Leslie L.

    Stittsville, ON

    I just finished this and I’m seriously in tears. Happiness. Curiosity. Heartache. Excitement. 200 characters is not enough to write a coherent review for this exceptional book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Kate B.

    Grand Rapids, MI

    Give this book a chance! It’s slow, but there’s a heart to it I wasn’t expecting. I loved the characters, and while the plot could have a little more pizazz, that’s not what it’s about. Really good.

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