Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
Book Description: Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance between the Faerie Courts has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly-vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow. 17-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life. The tattoo does bring changes—not the kind that Leslie had dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faerie world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. Melissa Marr continues her tales of Faerie in a dark, ravishing story of temptation and consequences, and of heroism when least expected.
Wicked lovely was one of my favorite paranormal YA reads in recent years. I immediately connected with Aislinn and Seth, and was completely captivated by the Faerie world that Melissa Marr had created. So I fully expected to be equally enchanted by Ink Exchange. After all, it’s the same wonderful world, and some of the same wonderful characters. So why am I left feeling slightly disappointed?
A human girl is singled out by a faery ruler as the one who could save his court and slowly drawn into the invisible world of the Fey. Torn between two men, one of whom she is drawn to despite her better judgment, she struggles to maintain her sense of self, deal with past family issues, and perhaps find true love.
I just described the general plot of both Wicked Lovely AND Ink Exchange. Now do you see why I’m disappointed? Ink Exchange does tell a different story in the details: Leslie is the human in question this time (we met her briefly in Wicked), and Irial is of the Dark Court (as opposed to Keenan’s Summer Court). Leslie has spend her life oblivious of fey until she unwittingly chooses a tattoo that links her to Irial and allows him to siphon dark human emotions (fear, anger, lust, hate etc.) through her to feed all his fey and stave off starvation. The link is eventual fatal to humans and, in the meantime, Leslie lives as a junkie where her only fix is Irial’s touch. The love triangle is completed by Niall, Keenan’s guard who falls for Leslie while trying to protect her from all fey, including himself.
If I hadn’t read Wicked Lovely first, I probably wouldn’t be nit picking. The story is fascinating, but it is also familiar, too much so for me. And to be honest, Ink is not as strong as Wicked nor are the characters as compelling. The world of the fey even seems less vivid. Ink Exchange in not a bad book, quite the opposite. The only real criticism is that it doesn’t live up to its predecessor. And considering how lovely Wicked was, that is hardly a fault at all.
Caution: I had a difficult time reviewing Wicked Lovely as a YA book because of some of the subject matter. I’m faced with that same problem with Ink Exchange. There are a lot of subjects in this book that I would be cautious about introducing to a young audience: Rampant drug use and abuse; child abuse; gang rape, orgies, sex addiction, self-mutilation, etc. Some of these topics are only briefly touched on, while others are recurring features throughout the story. Something to think about before handing this book to a teen.
Several references to a past experience where a character was drugged and gang raped. The concept of sexual addiction is present. Sex is implied, but never described. Orgies are implied, but never described.
- Reading level: Young Adult
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (March 31, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061214701
- ISBN-13: 978-0061214707