Title: Ink Exchange
Author: Melissa Marr
Release Date: March 31, 2009
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Teen/YA
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Ever since her mother left, Leslie’s life has been in shambles. Her father drinks (though he manages to get to work during the day) and her brother has turned to drugs and brings his unsavory friends around the house. Meanwhile, in the faery world, while relations between the Summer and Winter Courts have become peaceful, that leaves the Dark Court, which feeds off violence and destruction, starving. When Leslie is unwittingly drawn into a power struggle between the courts, the cost is higher than she could have ever imagined.
In this sequel to Wicked Lovely, the world is the same, but the reader has a new character to focus on: Aislinn’s close friend, Leslie. Leslie is incredibly damaged when the novel begins. She has a lot of trouble in her home, with her absent mother, alcoholic father, and brother who is willing to use her to score drugs, and has no place of safety to retreat to. Leslie doesn’t want to trust her friends with how bad things have become because she is ashamed of what her life is now. Instead, she becomes obsessed with the idea of getting a tattoo, of marking her skin to claim it as her own. I thought Leslie was a well-written character, believably broken, yet with veins of strength underneath. She is also sympathetic, giving the benefit of the doubt to those around her, and is more understanding than I’d be in the situation she finds herself in.
One major theme running through the novel is Leslie’s ignorance of the faery world, and this brought some frustration. She makes decisions the reader knows are bad because she doesn’t have complete information. Then, once she is drawn into the Dark Court, Aislinn refuses to discuss the faery world with Leslie in order to protect her, but it only makes things worse. I became increasingly frustrated with everyone as they refused to tell Leslie what she needed to know, especially because the consequences were serious and affected her much more than anyone else.
Marr also does an excellent job with her secondary characters in Ink Exchange. While characters previously fleshed out in Wicked Lovely do make an appearance, she also crafts entirely new characters for this book. She also heightens the complexity of the faery world with the Dark Court and the different fae it contains. Specifically, the tattoo artist Rabbit and family were excellent additions to the novel, and I hope we see them again in future books.
I enjoyed Ink Exchange, and was happy to see that a thorough knowledge of Wicked Lovely wasn’t required to enjoy the book; after all, it’s been quite some time since I read it. I found the details about tattoos interesting and I love the world that Melissa Marr has created. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.