Book Review: Scar by Alice Broadway

Ink taught Leora that all was not what it seems on the surface.
Spark taught her that there are two sides to every story.
Now Leora has had enough of lessons – she wants to make her own story.

My stunningly gorgeous copy of Scar arrived in the post one afternoon when I was poorly and feeling pretty sorry for myself; I squealed when I opened it, curled up under a blanket, and read it immediately, pausing only to retrieve my child from school (and only then because apparently leaving your offspring at school is frowned upon). It was amazing, everything I had hoped the ending to the trilogy would be and more.

Alice takes us straight back into the action, as though we had never left this world at the end of Spark. Mayor Longsight is standing over Leora, as the crowd cheer to see her bow before him. The people of Saintstone are not pleased to see Leora, so her act of submission pleases them.

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Longsight is a special kind of evil, the very epitome of the corrupting influence of power. Not satisfied with being feared or adored by his people, he wants them to worship him, and he has a plan. He is rocking a serious god complex in this series finale, styling himself as “a man made divinity” come to save his people from evil and sin. His Jesus act is giving the people of Saintstone hope that they can be redeemed through him.

By his side, as ever, is Jack Minnow, helping to bring this story of redemption to the people. I do not have words for this man. For the whole of Ink and Spark, I found him to be vile, creepy and evil. At the start of Scar, Leora feels the same, describing him as “a parasite who feeds on misery”. He is hiding something, and Leora wastes no time in trying to find out what. Jack is clearly an enemy but he is, at least, one she is familiar with, and the more she knows about him, the better equipped she will be to deal with him.

Mel warns Leora that once you know a person’s story “it’s much harder to hate them”, and this certainly has some truth to it. There were times in this book that Jack seemed a more sympathetic character and times when I pitied him and began to think that maybe he wasn’t as bad as he appeared to be.

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Mel, Saintstone’s revered Storyteller, and her stories are a central part of Scar. I loved this; Mel has fascinated me throughout the series, and we really get to know her in this book. Leora also gets to know her better, as well as learning more about the history and stories of her people. Leora has learned a lot about the Blanks and her views have changed a lot as a result. Now, back amongst her own people, she is eager to learn and to form new opinions as she does; she has come a long way from the young Leora we met at the start of Ink, and I am all here for this development.

Through Mel we learn more about the role of the Storyteller; that it is not only to tell stories, but to make the people hear them, giving a strong sense of the oral history of the role and the idea that each new Storyteller brings a new insight. The stories shine a light on the concept of “truth” and how one person’s truth might be very different to another person’s. This is reflected in the different stories / perspectives of the Blanks and the Marked. I loved getting to learn more about this: throughout the series the stories and Mel’s role have fascinated me, and I could not get enough of them. I was thrilled to find a new story about the sisters, which hit me right in my shrivelled heart. It is beautiful and perfect and made me question everything.

Mel is also questioning everything, having a crisis of faith as she tries to find the words to explain Longsight’s existence (right with you there Mel- I don’t think there is an explanation for this man!), and without that story and history, she is lost. Leora, who isn’t new to questioning her beliefs, tries to help her. But she is also lost.

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Leora is struggling at the start of Scar: how could she not be? In Ink and Spark her world has been torn apart, and she no longer knows who she is or where she stands. I think we all know by now that I am dead inside, but my heart broke for her.

“I want to be little again – a young girl who is hemmed in by her mother’s love. I am lonely and cold, and no-one cares that I am here”.

She wants her mother, but she doesn’t know if her mother wants her. Obel is in prison and broken “like an angel whose feathers have been plucked“. And she has no idea where she stands with her best friend Verity; both have done things that the other hates. Leora still thinks of her, but questions “Do we still love each other or do we hate each other now?” She doesn’t know if their fractured friendship can ever be mended. It’s a heartbreaking position, and a lot for Leora to come back from. But our Leora is nothing if not determined. Her determination, her bravery, and her conscience have inspired others and she is not going to let Longsight and Minnow take her down without a fight.

There isn’t much more I can say about this story without spoiling it for you, and I don’t want to do that. It’s one brilliant adventure. Scar is beautiful. It is the perfect ending to the trilogy and I promise you will not be disappointed. Please read it and let me know what you think!

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