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Melissa Marr – Ink Exchange

September 22, 2009

110. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (2008)
Wicked Lovely, Book 2

Read my review of:
– Book 1: Wicked Lovely

Length: 328 pages

Genre: Young Adult; Urban Fantasy

Started: 05 September 2009
Finished: 08 September 2009

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Because I enjoyed Wicked Lovely so much.

Being marked by a
Faerie King: not as much fun
as you might expect.

Summary: Leslie, Aislinn’s best (mortal) friend, is having a tough time of it. Her father’s never around, and drunk when he is, her drug-addict older brother has pimped Leslie out to be raped by his dealer, and she has no one in whom she’s able to confide. She’s a survivor, though, and has decided to reclaim her life… starting with her body. She wants to get a tattoo, and she’s found the perfect one – a pair of dark, mysterious eyes surrounded by Celtic knotwork and shadowy wings. But it’s not just any tattoo, it’s the sign of Irial, the King of the Dark Court of the faeries. By getting the tattoo, Leslie unknowingly binds herself to Irial, who needs a mortal conduit to channel fear, jealousy, rage, and the other strong emotions on which the Dark Fae feed. But Aislinn and the rest of the Summer Court want to keep Leslie safely away from the faery realm – particularly Niall, Keenan’s advisor, who is not only in love with Leslie, but also has his own history with Irial… and so knows exactly how much danger Leslie’s in.

Review: While I didn’t like Ink Exchange quite as much as Wicked Lovely, it was still a thoroughly absorbing read. I was coming off a book that couldn’t keep me interested for more than a few paragraphs at a time, so having a book whose interesting characters and compelling plot kept me up raptly reading long past my bedtime was a real treat.

Most of the things I loved about Wicked Lovely – the gritty, dark world-building; the excellent characterization, the clever twisting of conventional faerie lore – all of that was still present in Ink Exchange. Leslie’s also a fascinating protagonist, shattered and scared but still strong. While I don’t particularly identify with her (thank goodness), I bet there are (unfortunately) a lot of teens out there who will, and Marr should be applauded for once again giving readers a heroine with both brains and a spine, who is not pleased when her choices are taken away from her.

However, I felt like there just wasn’t as much going on in Ink Exchange as there was in the previous book, leaving it feeling a little – not light, not given the subject matter – but thin. Instead of the shifting loyalties and tangled romantic threads and multiple sympathetic narrators and piles upon piles of faery lore we got in Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange focuses almost exclusively on Leslie and her two would-be suitors, which, while interesting, wasn’t quite enough to really round out the book.

I also might have liked Ink Exchange a little less because Irial’s not nearly as sympathetic a character as Keenan was, despite the fact that (as Irial points out), what he’s doing to Leslie is at base no different from what Keenan did to Aislinn. (Also despite the fact that in this book, Keenan too comes off as more of a jerk than he did in Wicked Lovely.) Maybe it’s because the outcome of Irial’s attentions is grimmer, or maybe because Irial seems much less torn up about the consequences of keeping his Court intact, but he didn’t stir my empathy nearly so much… which in turn made the whole conflict of the book a little bit less gray, and therefore a little bit less interesting.

But! Again, those are all pretty minor points in comparison to how quickly this book sucked me in, and kept me reading, totally lost in the world of faeries myself. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: While it does focus on different characters than does Wicked Lovely (or the third book, Fragile Eternity), there are a lot of references to what’s come before, so it’s not really a stand-alone, and I wouldn’t recommend reading these books out of order. But for fantasy fans, Marr manages to write compellingly readable teen urban fantasy that feels immediate and real, without insulting the intelligence of either her narrators or her readers.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Melissa Marr’s Website (Caution: video with sound plays automatically)

Other Reviews: 3 Evil Cousins, Becky’s Book Reviews, The Book Muncher, Book Nut, Books and Other Thoughts, Bookshelves of Doom, Carrie’s YA Bookshelf, Darque Reviews, Dear Author, Devourer of Books, I Heart Monster, Ink and Paper, J. Kaye’s Book Blog, Juiciliciousss Reviews, Just Your Typical Book Blog, Karin’s Book Nook, Kids Lit, Literary Escapism, Liv’s Book Reviews, Lurv a la Mode, MariReads, Medieval Bookworm, My Friend Amy, One Librarian’s Book Reviews, Reader Rabbit, SciFiGuy, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, Teen Book Review, Ticket to Anywhere, Unmainstream Mom Reads, Wands and Worlds, The Written World
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Irial watched the girl stroll up the street: she was a bundle of terror and fury.

Cover Thoughts: I really like this one, despite it having the same monochrome generic teen fantasy romance look as so very many other books. At least in this one, the girl isn’t headless. I do wish she were turned a little bit more, so that the tattoo was more visible – it’s my favorite part of the cover, and as it is, the wing draws too much attention away from the eyes of the tattoo itself.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 33: “The glaistigs were dripping dirty river water all over the floor; several beansidhes still keened.” – a kind of beautiful female fairy, usually attired in a green robe or dress that hides goat legs, seldom seen except at the bank of a stream, and engaged in washing.
    .
  • p. 69: “If I hadn’t gone to his bruig and seen the mortals there in Irial’s domain…” – the interior of a fairy mound, especially a place where a number of fairies live together.
    .
  • p. 102: “The caresses of some faeries, Gancanaghs like him and like Irial once was, were addictive to mortals.” – a male faerie in Irish mythology that is known for seducing human women.
    .
  • p. 211 “It felt weird to think it, but somehow she suspected that the fights were tied to her. It seemed solipsistic to consider it, but the idea felt true.” – extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.
    .
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20 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2009 5:52 am

    Your feelings about this one pretty much match how I felt about it. It was thin compared to Wicked Lovely but overall a fairly compelling story.

    • September 25, 2009 9:17 am

      Meghan – I find that I’m willing to put up with a lot of faults as long as the story sucks me in… which this one definitely did.

  2. September 22, 2009 6:02 am

    I have heard it was a lot darker than Wicked Lovely. I have this one in my pile waiting to be read. My friend has just told me that Melissa Marr is planning a fourth.

    • September 25, 2009 9:18 am

      vivienne – It is a lot darker than Wicked Lovely, for sure… but that’s probably unavoidable when the focus is on the Dark Court vs. the Summer Court.

  3. September 22, 2009 8:12 am

    I’ve got Fragile Eternity and didn’t realize I needed to read the other two books first. It does sound like a great series.

    • September 25, 2009 9:20 am

      bermudaonion – It’s a little out-of-the-ordinary for what you normally read, I think, but I really hope you enjoy it anyways! (But yes, don’t start with Fragile Eternity… I read it last weekend and it would make NO sense read it on its own.)

  4. September 22, 2009 2:47 pm

    Completely agree. I didn’t know there was a third, so now I have to add it to my wish list. Thanks.

    • September 25, 2009 9:21 am

      Cara – The third’s pretty recently published, and goes back to focusing on Aislinn and Seth and Keenan. (My review for it should be up on Monday!) :)

  5. softdrink permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:40 pm

    I’m not easily bothered, but the whole drugged out orgy scene that took up most of the last part of the book really bothered me.

    So…not crazy about this one. I’ve also felt that all of the books were a little thin. I’m just not as crazy about them as most other people are.

    • September 25, 2009 9:24 am

      softdrink – The drugged out orgy scene is a good representation of why I didn’t like Irial so much… on one level, he wasn’t doing anything worse to mortals than Keenan did… but his methods were just so much grosser.

      Have you read Holly Black’s Tithe books? I’ve heard that there tends to be a split, and most people will gravitate either towards one series or the other.

  6. September 24, 2009 12:28 am

    It’s been awhile since I read Wicked Lovely (which I adored) so I think I’d like Ink Exchange a little more now. Can’t wait until the movie for WL to come out.

    • September 25, 2009 9:25 am

      Ladytink – There’s going to be a movie??? Must go investigate… and will totally go to see it. Awesome.

  7. September 24, 2009 11:59 am

    I loved Wicked Lovely, but have been advised to avoid Ink Exchange. I think I’ll still read it but remind myself I can stop if it’s not thrilling me.

    • September 25, 2009 9:30 am

      Bookfool – I think that sounds reasonable. As long as you have a basic idea of what happened in Ink Exchange, if you find it too grim or disturbing (I didn’t think so, but individual sensitivities vary), then you should be able to get someone to get you up to speed on the ending before reading Fragile Eternity.

  8. robertsinferno permalink
    September 24, 2009 9:45 pm

    Your review sounds great, I’m interested in picking it up now. The plot sounds good and the cover art (I’m a big cover art fan) is creative!

    • September 25, 2009 9:31 am

      robertsinferno – I’d really recommend Wicked Lovely first, if you haven’t already read it, but whichever you pick up, I hope you enjoy it!

  9. September 25, 2009 10:46 pm

    This reminds me that I really need to read Fragile Eternity. I broke a book ban to buy it and still haven’t read it!

  10. September 28, 2009 5:39 pm

    I actually preferred this to Wicked Lovely and thought it was quite a brave book in many ways.

    And I happen to love Irial.

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