Marr, Melissa. 2008. Ink Exchange.
Ink Exchange is the follow-up novel to Wicked Lovely. (Same fictional world, different narrators. Wicked Lovely, by the way, is a book that I could have sworn that I'd read last year...but for some reason or other...it isn't showing up in my archives. Which leaves me with the puzzlement...did I really read it? Regardless of if that is yes or no...I can say that I was able to get swept away into this book, this story, this world.)
Leslie is a mortal girl who is very troubled. Her father's essentially a broken man, a man who's almost completely out of her life. Her brother, Ren, is a drug addict/drug dealer. He's not beyond selling his sister's body--without her consent--to get what he wants or what he needs. Leslie is angry, hurt, and confused. Very angst-filled teen with good reason. She seeks an escape. She seeks a new identity. And for Leslie, step number one of this new life is getting a tattoo.
Leslie's right in a way. The tattoo will change her life. But Leslie had no idea what she was really in for. What a tangled mess she was getting into when she requested this one particular tattoo.
This tattoo links her body-and-soul with the king of the dark court. This faery king needs a mortal to "feed" his court, his followers. (It's only half as bad as it sounds. The dark faeries feed on emotions felt by humans. So it's exploitive and manipulative and sometimes cruel and sometimes just plain awful.)
Irial and Niall aren't mortals, they're part of the faerie world. Each desires Leslie. Each recognizes to a certain extent that they'd be bad for Leslie in that interactions between mortals and faeries almost always end badly for humans. But they're both drawn to her. Both lust for her. Both love her. Or claim to love her. Both have a bad track record with human women.
One of the things I enjoyed about this dark little story were the characters. Each was flawed. Each had good qualities; each had bad qualities. No one character was completely good or completely evil. Each was selfish and looking out for themselves, but most also were loving enough to want what was best for those around them whom they loved as well. Few (if any)was so completely self-absorbed that they were a monster.
This book was also way more complex than I was bargaining for. The characters had so much baggage, so much depth, so much I don't quite what the right word is. The characters were complicated which made them feel real to me as opposed to feeling that they were flat and lifeless or stereotypical or boring or whatever.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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