Review Blog

Oct 14 2008

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

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Harper Collins, 2008.
(Age 15+) Imagine that there were faeries all around you, dark and dangerous, but only some people could see them. Leslie is a damaged girl who longs to reclaim her self-esteem and her body and overcome the pain of her brother's betrayal to the drug dealers who raped her. She decides that having a tattoo would help her do this and when none of the conventional patterns appeal, Rabbit the tattooist shows her a special book of designs. A tattoo, with dark wings surrounding strange eyes, calls to her and she chooses it, not knowing that it will bind her to Irial, the eerie faery who is King of the Dark Court.

Compulsively readable, this urban fantasy sweeps the reader along in the grip of terror for Leslie as she warily treads through the dangers at home, working tirelessly to pay the household bills as she avoids her drunken father and deceitful drug-using brother. Add to this the reader's apprehension about the effects that the tattoo, the horror of the practices of the Dark Court, and the interplay between Irial and Niall, the Summer King's lieutenant, and it is one terrifying read.

Leslie's friend, Aislinn, the new Summer Queen from Marr's first book, companion novel Wicked Lovely, tries to protect her from the faery world and sends Niall to watch her, but he too has devastating powers over humans and his interest in her has to be denied. Other characters from Wicked Lovely feature, but it is Leslie who captures the imagination of the reader. It is a story of one girl's attempt to survive a rape and an awful home life and to reclaim herself. As Leslie links with Irial, the Dark King, she must also find the strength to overcome an addiction to the seductive powers of darkness.

This book will read as a stand-alone but having the faery background from Wicked Lovely would flesh out some of the story. It is a dark captivating story, with its themes of rape, betrayal, addiction and making choices, and left me hoping that more stories about the faery courts will appear soon.
Pat Pledger

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